NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday defended the media’s right to report facts and freedom of citizens to know affairs of respective sections of the society while responding to a petition filed in the Supreme Court seeking action against media reports “spreading hatred” over the Nizamuddin Markaz congregation of Tablighi Jamaat.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in an affidavit, informed the top court that it cannot gag the media from reporting on the Jamaat issue. The Centre claimed that steps have already been taken to prevent any dissemination of false and provocative information, and a blanket gag order cannot be passed against media reportage, as this could harm the freedom of speech and expression and press freedom.
“The Ministry has also taken suitable action against violation of programme codes, including issuance of advisory, warning, running an apology scroll, or taking a channel off air for a specific time period... it is submitted that news reports based on facts cannot be censured under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution,” the affidavit stated.
During the hearing, the bench orally observed that the governments in the country did not act until the court directed them. Advocate Dushyant Dave submitted before the bench regarding news reports on the Jamaat event and insisted that only the government can take action and not the self-regulating bodies governing the media.