A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by film producer Nilesh Navlakha through Advocate Rajesh Inamdar, Advocate Shashwat Anand, and Advocate Amit Paihas. The petition submitted was in regards to the importance of a tribunal which is necessary to maintain a balance between the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression of the media and the adjoining Right to Information of the citizens and Right to Dignity under Article-21 of Constitution of India.
The petitioner has urged the court for directions for setting up of an independent High-Powered Committee headed by a retired Chief Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court and consisting of distinguished citizens from different fields/professions and concerned stakeholders of the Central Government, to scrutinize and review the entire legal framework relating to Media-Business Regulation and recommended appropriate guidelines to be laid down by the Supreme Court.
The petition pointed to the fact that the current self-regulation of media is not enough and inconsistent in the manner of providing answers to/for the present issue.
The petition read as,
“Over the last few years, Media Trials, hate speech, propaganda news, paid news, have become the order of the day, thereby impeding the right to a fair and proportionate reporting. It is submitted that reckless reportage by the Electronic Media without accountability can, by no stretch of the imagination, be read into the right to freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by the Electronic Media.”
It has been submitted by the petitioner that the present petition does not aim to curb the fundamental rights of the media, but only to bring about some accountability for misinformation, inflammatory coverage, fake news, breach of privacy, etc. which media does indulge in, only with an aim to further their business, and to bring about consequences for acting in a fashion that is contrary to constitutional goals and morality.
It has been submitted that the exercise of power by the electronic media without any accountability is severely detrimental to the due process of law and contrary to the Rule of Law.
Therefore, Mr. Nilesh has urged the Court for appropriate guidelines for the regulation of media in exercise of the plenary and inherent powers under Article 32 and Article 142 of the Constitution, until legislation is introduced.
“Equating the Media-Business with the Judiciary, in terms of the privilege of “self-regulation” directly strikes upon the Independence of the Judiciary and rattles and shakes the very foundations of the Indian Constitutional Scheme and the Democracy, and the same goes against every notion and canon of law and justice prevailing in India”, states the plea.
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