Madras High Court: A Division Bench of M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar, JJ., while addressing a PIL held that,

“With regard to visual media, there are no regulations in force except self-regulation.”

Present petition was filed with regard to seeking issuance of guidelines to

  • print media and visual media to the cautious presentation of the news items when it involves any news, update or information about COVID-19 disease and maintain strict confidentiality in not revealing about anyone infected by the COVID 19 including his family.
  • to take strict legal action against the ones who are spreading rumours and false information regarding COVID 19 in Social Media.

Petitioner alleged that, certain persons who belonged to a particular religion and attended the conference at Delhi and were found to be affected by COVID-19 Pandemic, names of those persons were published without their consent and without any authority and on account of the said fact they faced social stigma.

Adding to the above, petitioner specifically pointed out that the Muslim Community are worstly affected.

Bench stated that, 

As far as visual media is concerned, there are no regulations in force except self-regulation. There are no laws available as on today.

If the petitioner is so aggrieved, it is open to the petitioner to approach the Press Council of India and News Broad Casting Standards Authority and this Court also takes judicial notice to the fact that though all the entities are covered under the relevant Statutes, visual media does not comes under the ambit of the Statute and it is for the Government of India to look into the said aspect.

Referring to the Supreme Court decision in Sahara India Real Estate Corp. Ltd. v. SEBI, (2012) 6 MLJ 772, it was observed that in the said decision  Supreme Court declined to pass orders as to the framing of guidelines for visual media.

Thus, in view fo the above, Court concluded by saying that, it is not in a position to issue a positive direction as sought. If any individual is aggrieved on account of false information, they are entitled to avail the remedy through Common Law or Criminal Prosecution. [Adv. M. Zainul v. Chief Secy., T.N. Govt.,  2020 SCC OnLine Mad 975 , decided o 22-04-2020]

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