The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the state government to respond to a public interest litigation filed seeking directions to frame statutory rules to prevent publishing by of indecent, obscene, violent, sexual video, audio and images and its graphic effects by media houses and to make any such publication as cognizable offence.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj issued notice to the Union of India, Commissioner of Police and the state government, while hearing a petition filed by one H Naghabhushan Rao.
The petition has been filed in the backdrop of the Ramesh Jarkiholi CD scandal, in which certain news channels telecasted visuals allegedly involving a state minister.
The plea also seeks directions to the respondent police not to leak such video clips and other incriminating material collected in the course of the investigation of any case to the digital media.
The bench in its order directed the petitioners to implead the State government in the matter as respondents. Further, it directed the State to place on record whether it has issued any directions to State Police to refrain from leaking information collected during the course of an investigation regarding any case to the press, public or media.
The petitioner has claimed he was watching TV, when he saw media houses publishing obscene video/ partially blurred nude photographs and videos of several incidents showing it as part of the news programme. It is described as sex scandal of several political leaders, religious leaders and other celebrities.
The petition said "Though the programme is shown as news it is shown as if it is an A-rated movie with sound effects graphics and repetitive dialogue delivery in thematic sound effects. While telecasting the news the sex video tapes are exhibited in different form, sometimes as blurred photographs and sometimes with or without editing or without censoring."
Further, while telecasting the news the TV anchors are repeating the vulgar language used in the video clips to make it loud and clear so that the public can understand the language that is used by two compromising individuals.
The petitioner claims the Cable TV (Regulation) Act-1995 has no such provision or scheme to prevent such mischievous publication. Section-5 of the act provides that no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service or any programme unless such programme is in conformity with the prescribed programme code.
The plea says "No doubt if there is a crime the law has to take its own course to reach its logical conclusion. However, the media cannot decide who has to be the accused and who has to be the victim and also who has to investigate the case. Hence the same has to be regulated and the media houses are to be prevented from publishing such clips in the news to meet the public peace, tranquility and order."
The petitioner states that The Cable TV Network (regulation) act 1995, there is no proper mechanism under the act to control or restrict media networks from telecasting indecent, sexual and other harmful content which violates the morals of the public and also public tranquility. The respondent media houses in their live news are publishing the sexual video clips as news items. The news has to be reporting a fact to the public. In the guise of investigating journalism these video clips cannot be permitted to be displayed.
It is claimed that under the Cinematography Act such contents are censored and certified by the censor board. But in the case of the media which is having far reaching viewership has no such mechanism to control the viewership.
The plea will be next heard on June 7.