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‘Disappointed With Union’s Affidavit’ : Supreme Court Slams Centre Again Over Unsatisfactory Response In ‘Communalization Of Tablighi Jamaat’ Matter

first_imgTop Stories’Disappointed With Union’s Affidavit’ : Supreme Court Slams Centre Again Over Unsatisfactory Response In ‘Communalization Of Tablighi Jamaat’ Matter LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK17 Nov 2020 1:36 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed strong displeasure over the counter-affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in response to a batch of petitions seeking action against the media outlets which indulged in communal propaganda in the light of Tablighi Jamaat members contracting COVID-19. “We are not satisfied with your affidavit. We had asked you to tell us…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed strong displeasure over the counter-affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in response to a batch of petitions seeking action against the media outlets which indulged in communal propaganda in the light of Tablighi Jamaat members contracting COVID-19. “We are not satisfied with your affidavit. We had asked you to tell us what have you done under the Cable TV Act? There is no whisper about that in the affidavit. We must tell you that we are disappointed with the Union’s affidavit in these matters. … Why should we refer to NBSA etc when you have the authority to look into it. If it does not exist, then you create an authority, else we will hand it over to an outside agency?” CJI Bobde said while adjourning the matter for three weeks.”We must tell you that we are disappointed with the Union’s affidavit in these matters”, the CJI added. The Top Court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking action against media outlets which allegedly indulged in communal propaganda in the light of Tablighi Jamaat attendees getting infected with Covid-19. The Court had asked the Central Government about the action taken against such media outlets, under the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act, 1995. When the matter came up, CJI Bobde observed that there is no mention about the present legal regime in the affidavit filed by the Union and it is also silent about the applicability of Cable TV Act upon electronic media. At this juncture, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Bench that there is no regime for content regulation of electronic media. He submitted, “Cable is only a medium for the transmission of various channels. The Cable TV Act is dealing with the medium of transmission. But there is a power under the Act to prohibit transmission. There is a committee to watch channels.” He also told the Bench that Centre has ample powers to regulate electronic media content but it is very cautious in its approach in view of the Freedom of press. Not convinced by this submission, the Court firmly remarked “If there is no mechanism, you create one.”Earlier, on October 8, the bench had slammed the Centre saying that its affidavit was short of facts.Following that, the Centre filed a fresh affidavit yesterday, about which also the court expressed dissatisfaction today.”The first affidaivt was not satisfactory. Even in the changed affidavit, there is no mention about the action under Cable TV Act. There is no mention about the present legal regime in the present affidavit and also about the applicability of Cable TV Act to controlling electronic media”, CJI Bobde told the Solicitor General.The Solicitor General requested the bench to grant three weeks time for a fresh affidavit. Accordingly, the matter was adjourned. Regulation of electronic media has lately become a focus of discussion, amid consecutive controversies regarding their content with respect to the manner of reporting in the Tablighi Jamaat incident, death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and broadcast of Sudarshan TV’s ‘UPSC Jihad’ show. While hearing the PIL relating to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the Bombay High Court had expressed concerns at the lack of regulation on the electronic and urged the Central Government to think of appropriate measures to control the problem of “trial by media”. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni wondered why there was no statutory regulatory body for the electronic media like the Press Council of India, which oversees the print media. “For the print media there is a Press Council. For cinemas there is a Censor Board. Why can’t you think of a similar statutory body for the electronic media?”, CJ Dipankar Dutta had asked Anil Singh, Assistant Solicitor General of India. No Jurisdiction Over Electronic Media, TV Channels, Social Media : Press Council Of India Clarifies “Media has a fundamental right to freedom. But that cannot be used to infringe the rights of others. This cannot go unregulated”, Justice Kulkarni had said. The ASG had then submitted that the courts have time and again ruled out external regulation for media and stressed on self-regulation. The Chief Justice had however stressed that a balance has to be maintained between the right to freedom of speech, right to fair trial and right to reputation. Earlier, a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud of the Supreme Court had remarked that the self-regulatory body, National Broadcasters Association is a ‘toothless’ body. During the hearing of the case against Sudarshan News TV’s controversial show, the Supreme Court had chided NBA over its laxity in enforcing its own regulations. “One thing you can do is come back to us on a method to strengthen NBA, so that you have a higher regulatory content. You have a few members and your regulations cannot be implemented. You need to tell us how it can be strengthened”, Justice Chandrachud had said. Also Read: ‘NBSA Functioning Effectively; Self Regulation Of Media Should Not Be Disturbed’: Datar Tells Bombay HC Recently, a PIL was filed before the Supreme Court seeking constitution of an independent authority, the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India, so as to regulate electronic media channels and facilitate development of broadcasting services in India; as electronic media does not come under the ambit of Press Council of India.Click Here To Download Affidavit[Read Affidavit]Next Storylast_img read more