Press can't be biased, yet free: Justice Joseph

Press can't be biased, yet free: Justice Joseph

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern on "a disturbing trend of bias" in the media, saying controlling business interests and political allegiances appeared to erode the duty of dispassionate and impartial purveying of information.

"If freedom is enjoyed by the Press without a deep sense of responsibility, it can weaken democracy. In some sections, there appears to be a disturbing trend of bias," Justice K M Joseph said.

In his separate judgement, that rejected the Union government's objections to reliance on secret documents, leaked unauthorisedly in the media, Justice Joseph said transmitting biased information, betrays absence of true freedom.

"It is, in fact, a wholly unjustifiable onslaught on the vital right of the people to truthful information under Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) which, in turn, is the bedrock of many other rights of the citizens also," he wrote.

Justice Joseph said the Press, including the visual media, cannot be biased and yet be free.

He quoted eminent journalist Kuldeep Nayyar, who wrote in his autobiography 'Beyond the Lines': "What appalls me most is that editorial primacy has been sacrificed at the alter of commercialism and vested interests. It hurts to see many journalists bending backwards to remain handmaidens of the proprietors on the one hand, and of the establishment, on the other."