Advertisement
Friday, Jul 01, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

SC Slams Centre For Doing 'Nothing' About 'Instigating' News Over Tablighi Congregation, Farmers' Protests

Control over some news is as important as some preventive measure and check law and order situation, the bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde said.

SC Slams Centre For Doing 'Nothing' About 'Instigating' News Over Tablighi Congregation, Farmers' Protests
| PTI
SC Slams Centre For Doing 'Nothing' About 'Instigating' News Over Tablighi Congregation, Farmers' Protests
outlookindia.com
2021-01-28T16:58:08+05:30

Referring to the internet shutdown on January 26 amid unrest in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Thursday took the Centre to task for "not doing anything" to curb television programmes which "instigate or impact a community". The top court noted the need for fair and factual reporting is imperative to check law and order situation. 

"The fact of the matter is that there are programmes which have instigating effect and you being the government is doing nothing about it," a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Centre.

Control over inciteful news programmes can act as a preventative measure because they are often used agitate others, the bench noted. 

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, made this observation while hearing a batch of pleas which have raised the issue of media reporting of Tablighi Jamaat congregation here last year during the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.

The congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in the national capital in March last year, attended by thousands of Indian and foreign nationals, was cited as being responsible for accelerating the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19, with its attendees allegedly carrying the infection to different parts of the country.

"There are programmes which instigate or impact a community. But as a government, you do nothing," the bench observed.

"Yesterday, you shut down the internet and mobile because of the farmers' visit to Delhi. I am using the non-controversial term. You have shut down internet mobile," the CJI said, adding, "These are problems that can arise anywhere. I don't know what happened in the TV yesterday.

"Fair and truthful reporting is normally not a problem. Problem is when it is used to agitate others. It is as important as providing 'lathis' to policemen. It is an important preventive part of the law and order situation," the bench said.

The apex court said it is not interested in people saying anything on TV but it is concerned about those programmes which have instigation effect.

"Control over some news is as important as some preventive measure and check law and order situation. I don't know why you are blind to this. I don't mean anything offensive but you are doing nothing about it," the CJI said.

"People can say anything. We are on broadcast which can instigate and cause riots. There is loss of life. People say anything these days. There are situations which can destroy property, life," the top court said.

Mehta told the bench that there are self-regulatory bodies like the broadcaster associations and News Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA) also has its own system.

"Now, we are in the era of OTT. There was DTH, cable service etc too. We can lay down all the system before you," Mehta told the bench.

The bench asked the parties to file their affidavits in the matter within three weeks and said the matter will be heard thereafter.

In November last year, the apex court had expressed displeasure over the Centre's affidavit in the case and said that the government should consider setting up a regulatory mechanism to deal with such contents on TV.

Observing that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's affidavit did not deal with the applicability of Cable Television Network Act (CTNA) in the case, the top court had said that the government has the power to put a regulatory mechanism in place and it cannot be left to an agency like NBSA.

The top court, which was hearing the pleas filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind and others alleging that a section of the media was spreading communal hatred over Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of pandemic, had asked the Centre to file a fresh affidavit dealing with a mechanism to regulate electronic media under the CTNA.

The plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind has sought directions to the Centre to stop the dissemination of "fake news" related to the Nizamuddin congregation and take strict action against those responsible for it.

With PTI inputs

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.

Advertisement