Markaz problem: Attempt for gag order on media will destroy freedom of residents to know, govt tells SC

New Delhi, August 7

The Centre on Friday instructed the Supreme Court {that a} Muslim physique’s try and acquire a blanket “gag order” on the complete media to stop them from reporting the Markaz Nizamuddin problem would successfully destroy the liberty of the citizenry to know and the proper of journalists to make sure an knowledgeable society.

The authorities mentioned that within the absence of any particular details about any objectionable information revealed or aired by a selected information channel or company, the Constitution and the relevant statutes didn’t give it any authority to unilaterally cross any censure order beneath the Cable Television Networks Rules.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind filed a plea within the Apex Court looking for instructions to the Centre to cease the dissemination of “fake news” associated to a spiritual gathering at Markaz Nizamuddin and take strict motion towards these accountable for it.

The Jamiat has alleged that the unlucky incident of Tablighi Jamaat was getting used to “demonise” and blame the complete Muslim group and sought to restrain the media from publishing and airing such studies.

The Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin in central Delhi in March was accused of accelerating the unfold of the novel coronavirus, with its attendees carrying the an infection to completely different components of the nation.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian took the Centre’s affidavit on report and requested the petitioner to file their rejoinder by August 26, the following date of listening to.

In its affidavit filed in reply to the plea of the Jamiat Ulemma e-Hind, the Centre mentioned: “…Attempts to seek a blanket ‘gag order’ against the entire media in respect of Markaz Nizamuddin issue will effectively destroy the freedom of the citizen to know about the affairs of respective sections of the society in the nation and the right of the journalist to ensure an informed society.”

It mentioned that dissemination of details by the media, prima facie, didn’t quantity to assault faith or non secular communities and the identical additionally doesn’t quantity to visuals or phrases contemptuous of spiritual teams or phrases and opinions which promote communal attitudes.

The Centre mentioned the reduction sought within the petition was nothing however a reduction akin to a “blanket gag order” on the complete media in respect of reporting of the Nizamuddin Markaz incident.

“The prayers of such sweeping nature ought not to be entertained by this court, in as much as, the same will inevitably result in muzzling, stifling and choking of free speech as guaranteed to the media house/journalist under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India,” the Centre mentioned.

It mentioned passing of any blanket order within the nature of a “gag order”, as prayed within the writ petition, with out figuring out the particular objectionable information studies revealed by a named and recognized media home and with out affording a chance to listen to such media home, channel or company would ex-facie end in stifling of the proper assured to the journalists and media home beneath Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, to air their views by tv in addition to print media.

“Such an order would inevitably also impinge upon freedom of the citizen to know about the affairs of the society and the right of the journalist to ensure an informed society,” the Centre mentioned, including that the petition, which falls to call/determine a particular objectionable report revealed or carried out by named and recognized media home, was liable to be dismissed.

It mentioned reporting of incidents, which had transpired within the society throughout the lockdown and airing views on the identical, was protected speech beneath the Constitution of India.

The authorities mentioned: “Action such as registration of FIRs in specifically identified cases where instances of false reporting offending the religious sentiments of the public, has come to light; issuance of blocking orders, wherever, the union of India has come across inciting posts and issuance of advisories to the social media platform to prevent the circulation of false news related to coronavirus has been taken.”

“Any order passed by the answering respondent, on the basis of pleading made in the present petition and the other connected petition would be completely contrary to the right of free speech guaranteed to journalist and media houses and would amount to arbitrary censure of the journalistic freedom,” it added.

The affidavit mentioned insofar because the Markaz problem was involved, the federal government had neither come throughout nor had been intimated with any particular media report which had violated the availability of Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.

“The news reports based on facts which are prima facie not per se false or fake cannot be censured under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. Dissemination of such facts by the media houses, even though they may appear to be offensive or distasteful to certain individuals or a section of society, is nevertheless, protected under Article 19 (1) (a),” it mentioned.

“The censure of such nature would not only impinge but would also abrogate the right to know of the remaining section of the society about true and correct facts related to the Markaz event during COVID era and the right of a journalist to keep the society informed,” it mentioned.

The authorities mentioned that the suitable efficacious treatment for the petitioner was to strategy to the secretary of the Press Council of India. PTI

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