National Affairs

There Should Be A Self-Regulatory Mechanism For Media: SC 

During the hearing on the case of News Broadcasters Association (NBA) challenging the Bombay High Court decision in the Supreme Court, CJI DY Chandrachud said that the process of creating a self-regulatory mechanism is going on in both the NBA and the News Broadcasters Federation (NBF).  They are taking time to file their reply in this matter. Therefore, they are being given time to file their reply after four weeks. Now this case will be heard in the Supreme Court after four weeks. 

During the hearing on this matter, CJI DY Chandrachud said that we have already said that there should be self-regulation for the media. 

The heads of these two institutions, Justice AK Sikri and Justice RV Raveendran, are considering this issue. During this, senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for NBF, said that the issue is that the Government of India had amended the rules in 2021. 

On behalf of the central government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “So far, the News Broadcasters Federation is the only association which has registered itself, while the NBA had refused to register.” 

At the same time, senior lawyer Arvind Datar, appearing for NBA, said that we have met Justice Sikri and Justice Raveendran in this matter. They said that rules are being made only for self-regulation. It will take four more weeks.  

On this the CJI said that let those people respond to the self-regulatory mechanism. We will consider the issue of registration later. CJI told NBF that if you also have self-regulation rules, then you should file them with us. If they need to be tightened, we will see. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that we have filed an affidavit, stating that there is a statutory regulation that the institution should be registered. 

On this the CJI said that if you are making the rules yourself, then we can see whether they are sufficiently strict and transparent or not? If it is not so then we can also make rules. Our idea is to strengthen the first level of self-regulation. We want that there should be a level of discipline or self-discipline. 

Then the Solicitor General further added that they should also be held accountable. 

Actually, the Supreme Court is hearing the appeal of NBA, in which it has challenged the decision of Bombay High Court. Bombay High Court had said in its decision that there is no purity and transparency in the legal structure of NBA. 

The NBA has challenged this in the Supreme Court. In the last hearing, the Supreme Court had raised questions on the news of TV channels. 

The Supreme Court had said that it is necessary to make the self-regulatory mechanism of channels effective. When you interfere with people’s reputation, there is a presumption of guilt. There are some people who do not follow restraint. We want to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism. Imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh on channels is not effective. There was no thought of increasing the fine to Rs 1 lakh for the last 15 years. This fine should be based on the profit made from the show. 

The Supreme Court has sought suggestions from the NBA to strengthen the self-regulatory system.  

During the hearing, CJI DY Chandrachud had told NBA – You say that TV channels exercise self-control. Don’t know how many people will agree with you in the court. In Sushant Singh Rajput case, everyone went crazy whether it is a murder. You have already started the investigation. You do not want the government to interfere in this area. But the self-regulatory mechanism will have to be made effective. Imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh on channels, is it effective? When was this 1 lakh fine prepared? The NBA has not considered increasing fines in the last 15 years? The fine should be proportionate to the profit they earn on the show. We commend you for having a self-regulatory mechanism, but it must be effectively implemented.

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