he Supreme Court Tuesday again expressed its displeasure over the Central Government’s affidavit in a matter pertaining to the communalization of the Tablighi Jamaat event by the media.
A three-judge bench led by CJI S A Bobde told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the affidavit did not deal with the applicability of the Cable Television Networks Act and the legal regime governing the dissemination of fake news by the media.
“We want to know what is the mechanism is to deal with this sort of content on TV”, said the bench.
The bench, which also comprised Justices A S Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, told the Centre to create a mechanism for addressing grievances against fake news circulated by TV channels and the media if there was none at present.
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SG Mehta said that the Centre had ample powers to regulate the content of TV channels but believed in taking a very cautious approach as the right to free speech as a fundamental right applied to the media as well. Mehta undertook to file a fresh affidavit.
The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said the petition made “vague assertions” based on certain fact-check sites to contend that the entire media was spreading communal disharmony. It added that Centre had issued 743 orders blocking fake or misleading content on the corona virus on social media.
The Court was hearing a PIL seeking action against the media for communalising the coronavirus pandemic in light of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting held in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in early March.
The petition, filed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, had claimed that the media had communalised the Nizamuddin Markaz event and that some sections of the print and electronic media had “demonised the entire Muslim community”.
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The apex court had slammed the Centre on an earlier occasion too for filing an ‘evasive’ and ‘brazen’ affidavit in this case.