The independent watchdog of Indian television on Thursday imposed a fine of $1,366 on a channel, while asking three others to apologise for insensitive reporting and sensationalising the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), headed by former Judge Justice A.K. Sikri, censured the Hindi channels Aaj Tak, Zee News, and News 24 for running insensitive tag lines that had the effect of violating the privacy and affecting the dignity of the deceased.
"While it is the duty of the news channel to report news, which may be in public interest and the persons being reported upon may get justice from such media reports, it is equally important to present the news in a manner which does not violate the privacy of the dead nor sensationalise a tragic incident. It is important that the dead must not be subjected to unnecessary media glare", said the NBSA in a statement on Thursday.
The authority also asked the channels to remove the objectionable videos if they were still available on their digital platforms.
Rajput took his life on 14 June in his flat in Mumbai. The case, initially investigated by the Mumbai Police, was transferred to the federal probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on orders from the Supreme Court of India on 19 September.
Two other federal agencies also began investigating different aspects of the case – the anti-drug agency, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on the drug angle, and the economic intelligence agency – the Enforcement Directorate – on money laundering aspects.
Rhea Chakraborty, who was arrested in a drug case by the NCB on 8 September, remained in jail for almost a month before the Bombay High Court released her on bail on Wednesday, 7 October, dismissing charges that she was part of an alleged drug racket.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police also warned the media against “chasing celebrities and others” and “endangering lives”, after Rhea Chakraborty was released on bail.
Reports quoting forensic experts at the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi indicate that the actor took his own life and ruled out the possibility of murder.