The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre in a plea seeking constitution of a Broadcast Regulatory Authority to regulate electronic media in India.
A 3-judge Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde considered this PIL seeking to define press freedoms, filed by Advocate Reepak Kansal, and sought a response from the Union Government regarding the possibility of a Regulatory authority.
"Notice issues, returnable in 4 weeks", ordered CJI Bobde.
The petition seeks constitution of an independent authority, the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India, in order to regulate electronic media channels and facilitate development of broadcasting services in India, since electronic media does not come under the ambit of the Press Council of India.
The petition alleges that there is no law in existence to bring broadcasting employees/anchors within the definition of journalists and electronic broadcasting channels in the definitions of 'PRESS' or Journalist etc.
"These self-declared, un-controlled and un-regulated electronic broadcasting channels are falsely claiming themselves as media and have been running by foreign / Indian investors in the name of news channels / media. Its Anchors falsely represent themselves as Journalists. There is clear cut misuse of fourth pillar of democracy by giving it in the hand of foreign investors. There is scope to weaken the unity and strength of our nation by the foreign investors," the plea states.
It is further prayed to restrict the electronic media from "assassinating" the dignity of any individual, community, religious saint or religious/ political organization, in the name of 'Press'.
The plea urges that freedom of speech is not an absolute right under the Indian laws and Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Indian constitution enables the legislature to impose certain restrictions on free speech.
"The airwaves are public property and it is necessary to regulate the use of such airwaves in national and public interest, particularly with a view to ensuring proper dissemination of content and in the widest possible manner," the plea states.
The petitioner wishes to curb the evils of media trial, parallel trial, judgmental views and interference with the administration of justice.
The matter will now come up for consideration after 4 weeks.