A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to constitute an independent authority to be known as the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India to regulate the electronic media.
The plea also prays for direction to the Central Government to restrict the ‘assassination’ of the dignity of individual, community, religious saint, religious and political organisation by the broadcasting electronic channels in the name of freedom of ‘Press’.
“The electronic broadcasting channels start immediate media trial or parallel trial in sub-judice matters and give its judgmental view on public plate-form which amounted to interference in the administration of justice. The said trial hold by broadcasting electronic channels violates the right to accused to have a fair trial”, the plea states.
Due to the media trial, the plea states, the general public shapes their mind against the accused person and it becomes difficult for the accused to live with dignity in the said society.
The petitioner, Reepak Kansal- a practicing lawyer also contends that the electronic broadcasting channels do not come under the ambit of the Press Council of India- a statutory authority.
The plea, thus, argues that due to the absence of regulation and legislation, ‘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.
It is contended that the question of legal control over electronic broadcasting sources i.e. like radio, television and internet protocol television needs to be pondered over especially when there is a 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 hate speeches by the anchors with the same faces of panelists have been using bad words/ abusive language. Some of these broadcasting electronic channels have been targeting one community and instigating one community towards another community”, the plea states.
The plea alleges that due to said illegal activities in the name of journalism by these self-regulated broadcasting channels; India’s ranking fell from 138 to 140 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index
Further, it is argued that the airwaves are public property and it is necessary to regulate the use of such airwaves in the national and public interest, particularly with a view to ensuring proper dissemination of content and in the widest possible manner.