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"Open To Petitioner To Live In The Stone Age, Courts Can't Impose Sanctions On How Media/Social Media Operates": Madras HC

Sparsh Upadhyay
2 March 2021 11:16 AM GMT
Open To Petitioner To Live In The Stone Age, Courts Cant Impose Sanctions On How Media/Social Media Operates: Madras HC
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"The Courts are not there to impose sanctions or guidelines on how the media or even social media operates and it is for the other agencies to do so, based on the policy decision taken by the legislature of the day or the executive arm" : Madras High Court

The Madras High Court recently dismissed a plea seeking directions to the respondents (including the Union of India) to take necessary steps to control, monitor, guide, and to form a panel of censor members of the social platforms. The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice R. Hemalatha was hearing the plea wherein one S. Umamaheswaran who prayed before the Court to...

The Madras High Court recently dismissed a plea seeking directions to the respondents (including the Union of India) to take necessary steps to control, monitor, guide, and to form a panel of censor members of the social platforms.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice R. Hemalatha was hearing the plea wherein one S. Umamaheswaran who prayed before the Court to exercise its Article 226 Jurisdiction to play the role of a conservative censor board to monitor and control the content of what is broadcast over social media.

Observing that it is open to the petitioner to live in the stone age or to protect his family or his children from the advances of technology, the Bench remarked,

"Though complaints may be entertained, the Courts are not there to impose sanctions or guidelines on how the media or even social media operates and it is for the other agencies to do so, based on the policy decision taken by the legislature of the day or the executive arm."

Further, the Court also observed that the petitioner is free to propagate the kind of philosophy that the petitioner seeks to espouse and the rights of choice that are constitutionally guaranteed will not stand in the way.

The Court also asked him to approach the appropriate legislature or executive (in case he so desires) to effectuate his ideas.

Lastly, reiterating that the Courts cannot impose the conditions as the petitioner desires, the Plea was dismissed by giving petitioner the liberty to approach the appropriate authority in accordance with law.

Interestingly, noting that it is a matter for the Government to decide, the Madras High Court last month disposed of a plea filed against Sanskrit news telecast on Doordharasan Podhigai Tamil Television Channel.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M. M. Sundresh also observed,

"It is open to the petitioner to switch off the television and get some other form of entertainment during the period the Sanskrit news is read."

The Court also said,

"When the writ petitioner does not find the Sanskrit seems to be tasteful or useful, there is no compulsion for the petitioner to tune in"

It may be noted that the Central government on 25th February notified about the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which aims to regulate social media, digital media, and OTT Platforms (Over The Top).

Centre Finalizes Draft Rules For Regulation of Social Media Intermediaries, OTT Platforms & Online Media

New Social Media Rules : Messaging Platforms Can Be Asked To Trace 'First Originator' Of Messages

What Is The Newly Notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

Case title - S. Umamaheswaran v. Union of India and others [W.P.(MD)No.1306 of 2021]

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