Amid controversies related to the ways the TV new channels are covering the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Union government why there is no statutory body to regulate the content broadcast through television news channels, PTI reported.
“Is there a statutory mechanism for (TV news) broadcasters?” the HC asked, according to PTI.
The court was hearing multiple PILs that accused the media, particularly television, of conducting a “media trial” into the case, ascribing roles and presuming guilt of the accused persons, thus hampering a fair probe and trial into the matter.
The public interest litigations sought directions to exercise restrain into the reportage of the case.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni asked the Centre why the television media should have an “open hand” while reporting.
“Just as how the Press Council of India exists for the print media, why don’t you (Union government) think of a similar council for the electronic media? Why should they have an open hand?”
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, representing the Centre, said that the media houses did not have an “open hand as such”. “It is not as if the government is not doing anything. It does take action on complaints received (against channels),” Singh said, as quoted by PTI.
“But ultimately, the government cannot control everything. The press has freedom and its rights,” he added.
The bench, however, pointed out that the government had earlier, on numerous occasions, forwarded complaints related to the electronic media to private bodies like the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and News Broadcasters Federation (NBF).
The court drew the reference from the government’s own affidavit filed before it. The case will be heard on Wednesday.