SC asks Centre for mechanism to deal with fake news

SC asks Centre to create mechanism to deal with fake news

A bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde expressed strong displeasure over an affidavit by the Union government

Supreme Court. Credit: PTI Photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to create a mechanism to deal with the fake news circulated in TV and other media.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde expressed strong displeasure over an affidavit by the Union government, referring to a self-regulatory mechanism like News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA).

"We want to know the mechanism employed by you and this affidavit has nothing on it. Why should we refer to NBSA etc when you have the authority to look into it. If it does not exist then you create an authority else we will hand it over to an outside agency," the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The law officer said the NBSA is a self-regulatory body.

"The Centre has ample powers to regulate the content of TV channels but takes a very cautious approach as a right to free speech as a fundamental right is available to media," he said.

"What is shown in TV channels is of great consequences for the country," the bench said, asking Mehta the Centre to tell what mechanism it has under Cable TV Network Regulation Act and what action taken against fake news in three weeks.

Mehta agreed to file an elaborate affidavit.

The court was hearing a petition by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, alleging "communal headlines and bigoted statements" by a section of media on Tablighi Jamaat participants in Nizamuddin Markaz here in March 2020. It said Section 20 of the Cable TV Network Act, provided the remedy in case of bad reporting. 

The government had earlier in August told the court that an “attempt to seek a blanket gag order against the entire media” would meddle with freedom of Indians to know about various sections of the nation and the right of the journalists to ensure an informed society".

The court had in October said freedom of speech is one of the most abused freedoms in recent times.