New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday sought responses from the Centre, Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on a PIL seeking setting up of a media tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against media, channels and networks.
The plea said media, particularly the electronic, has become like an unruly horse which needs to be tamed.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian took note of the plea which also sought setting up of an independent committee headed by either by a former Chief Justice of India or an apex court judge to review the entire legal framework related to media business regulations and suggest guidelines.
Besides the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, PCI and NBA, the bench also issued notices to News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) on the PIL filed jointly by film maker, Nilesh Navalakha and civil engineer Nitin Memane in the proceedings conducted through video conferencing.
The top court tagged the PIL with a pending plea on the issue.
The petition filed through advocates Rajesh Inamdar, Shashwat Anand and Amit Pai, maintained that the plea is not to curb the fundamental rights of the media-business, but only to bring about some accountability for misinformation, inflammatory coverage, fake news and breach of privacy.
It sought framing of guidelines outlining the broad regulatory paradigm within which media houses that is broadcasters and electronic media, can exercise their rights under Article 19(1) of the Constitution, so as to judicially regulate them.
“The media is simply a business, albeit one which is one of the most powerful structures of power in itself, and thus, the same must by regulated by constitutional norms and principles,” the PIL said.
The self-regulatory process makes the electronic media broadcaster a judge in his own case, it said.
“The establishment of an independent, regulatory tribunal or judicial-body, known can hear and expeditiously adjudicate upon complaint petitions against the media-businesses filed by the viewers/ citizens. The tribunal can bring about consequences for acting in a fashion that is contrary to constitutional goals and morality,” it said.
The petitioners raised legal issues including wherher Article 21 of the Constitution envisaged the right of the citizens to free, fair and proportionate media reporting.
“The restrictions on the electronic media must be placed at a higher footing as over the last few years media trials have become the order of the day. These trials not only have a prejudicial effect on the rights of the accused but also its very concept is an anathema to the administration of justice,” it said.