Plea in SC to direct Centre to Control “Uncontrolled” Broadcasting Electronic News Channels4 min read

By- Akshay Gurnani

Reepak Kansal who was recently fined for ₹100 for levelling allegations against the SC registry states that electronic broadcasting channels have been spreading negativity and enmity among different communities

A petition has been moved in the Supreme Court urging the top Court to direct Centre to restrict the activities of unregulated, uncontrolled, “self-declared” news broadcasting channels stated to have been carrying on the assassination of individual, community and religious dignity under the guise of freedom of the press.

“… the anchors of said broadcasting channels are also masters in assassinations of the dignity of any individual, organization and political party by claiming themselves as Media and have been taking the protection of freedom of Press.”

The petition states,” The petition drawn by Advocate Reepak Kansal and filed through Advocate on Record, Harisha SR, seeks to protect the right to life with dignity as guaranteed under the Constitution of India and which is stated to have been assassinated by uncontrolled and unregulated broadcasting by electronic channels.”

Urging for greater regulation of such media, the petition states, “The question of the Legal control over electronic broadcasting sources i.e. like radio, television and internet protocol television is a topic to be pondered over in recent times in India, especially when there is circulation of fake news, bad journalism or hate speeches in the name of journalism and which also became a plate-form to assassinate the dignity of an individual or religious and political organizations. The live debates and reporting on the electronic broadcasting channels cannot be stopped until unless it would be regulated by a statutory body.”

Inter alia, the plea prays for the constitution of an independent authority to be known as the “Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India” to regulate and facilitate the development of broadcasting services in India

Kansal, who was recently fined for ₹100 for levelling allegations against Supreme Court registry, has stated that electronic broadcasting channels claiming to be news channels/press have been spreading negativity and enmity among different communities of the nation.

Pointing towards editor-in-chief of Republic News, Arnab Goswami, Kansal’s petition notes that the news anchor uses defamatory and provoking language against the community, panellists, their religion in the name of journalism during his TV debates.

The petitioner also takes note of baseless allegations of communal nature made by Goswami against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. He goes on to refer to the attack on Goswami which Goswami alleged was triggered by his comments against Sonia Gandhi.

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“… recently, the said Anchor who claimed himself to be a victim of the attack, used inappropriate words against the leader of one political party. Instead of giving a statement to IO and participating in the investigation, the said Anchor used the said electronic broadcasting channel for attacking on one political party, its’ President Smt Sonia Gandhi and her family members”, the petition states.

The petitioner adds, “the said Anchor called attackers as ‘Sonia Ke Gunde” etc and assassinate the dignity of the individual as well as a political party. There are numbers of FIRs are registered against him across the country prior and after the said false and baseless reporting on public plate-form.”

The plea seeks the indulgence of the top Court so that directions could be issued to restrict media channels from conducting a media trial or a parallel trial or airing judgmental views and interfering in the administration of justice.

Kansal’s plea is based on the contention that airwaves are public property and it is necessary to “regulate the use of such airwaves in the national and public interest, particularly to ensure proper dissemination of content and in the widest possible manner.”

The plea further submits that there is a dearth of regulations and legislation in this area. Thus, it is stated that uncontrolled and un-regulated electronic broadcasting channels have been “attacking the foundation of unity and integrity of India and working against its’ Sovereignty, Socialism, Secularism and democracy.”

The petition states, “These self-declared, un-controlled and un-regulated electronic broadcasting channels are falsely claiming themselves as media and have been running by foreign / Indian investors in the name of news channels/media.”

Given these concerns, the petitioner has urged the Supreme Court to issue directions to the Central Government to:

  • to restrict the assassination of the dignity of individuals, communities, religious saints, religious and political organisations in the name of freedom of the press
  • control uncontrolled and unregulated broadcasting electronic channels
  • constitute an independent authority to be known as the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India for the regulation of broadcasting services
  • restrict media trial
  • stop the misuse of airwaves by such broadcasting electronic channels in the name of media, press and journalism.