New Delhi, September 17
The Centre has said that if the Supreme Court decides on the issue of media regulation, then such an exercise should be undertaken with the digital media first as it has faster reach and information has the potential to go viral due to applications namely WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
The government told the Apex Court that sufficient framework and judicial pronouncements existed for the electronic and the print media.
“Considering the serious impact and the potential, it is desirable that if this court decides to undertake the exercise, it should first be undertaken with regard to digital media as there already exists sufficient framework and judicial pronouncements with regard to electronic media and print media,” said the counter affidavit, filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
“It is submitted that while in a mainstream media (whether electronic or print), the publication or telecast is a one-time act, the digital media has faster reach from a wider range of viewership or readership and has the potential to become viral because of several electronic applications like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook,” it said.
The affidavit was filed in a pending matter in which the top court is hearing a petition which has raised grievance over Sudarshan TV’s ‘Bindas Bol’ programme whose promo had claimed that channel would show the ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had on September 15 restrained the channel from telecasting its episodes of a programme for two days, saying “the intent” of aired episodes “prima facie” appears to “vilify” the community.
The bench had suggested that a committee of apolitical experts of distinguished citizens or former judges may be appointed to help in self-regulating the electronic media especially.
The Apex Court is scheduled to hear the matter today.
In its affidavit, the Centre has said: “Subject matter of the present petition namely balancing between the journalist freedom and responsible journalism is a field already occupied either by the statutory provisions made by the Parliament or by the judgments of this court.”
“It is respectfully submitted that in view of the issue having already received the attention of the Parliament, as well as, of this court, the present petition be confined to only one channel namely Sudarshan TV and this court may not undertake the exercise of laying down any further guidelines with or without the appointment of an amicus or a committee of persons as amicus,” the affidavit said.
It said that situation in each case shall have to be decided on a case-to-case basis and a broader exercise “which is too general in nature is neither warranted nor permissible”.