The State Government was directed by the Karnataka High Court to provide a response of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed to seek the framework of statutory rules to prevent the publication of obscene visuals by the media and to recognise and consider such publication as a cognizable offense.
The rules that are sought by such PIL intend to prevent the publishing by of indecent, obscene, violent, sexual video, audio and images and its graphic effects by media houses.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) was also directed to respond to the PIL in this regard.
The PIL further sought from the Court directions to the State Police Officials not to leak information or evidence regarding any ongoing investigation to the press, public or media.
Such petition was filed by one H Naghabhushan Rao, and the matter was heard by a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj.
The Union of India, Commissioner of Police, the State Government of Karnataka, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) were notified by the Hon’ble Court to response to the instant PIL.
The Public Interest Litigation was filed, keeping in mind the response of media in the CD scandal involving BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholiand a woman, where video recordings of the politician offering jobs in return of sex to the 25 year old woman.
Such a scandal resulted in a political storm in the State of Karnataka and eventually led to the MLA resigning from his office post such allegations.
Even though the police and the Politicians were mute spectators to the storm, the media left no stone unturned to publicize the sleazy contents of such video.
The petitioner was concerned with the display of such content to the general public, without any censorship and, it was based on this concern that the Court was approached.
Concerns were expressed about the present legislations which authorize the content that is displayed by the media houses and movies.
The Section 5 of the Cable TV (Regulation) Act, 1995 restricts the transmission or re-transmission of any content, by cable service, unless it is in conformity with the prescribed programme code. However, the term “programme code” is an ambiguous term which has nowhere been defined in the legislation.
The petitioner also brought to the attention of the Court that the Cinematograph Act provides with the guidelines of the censorship that is to be compulsorily adhered to by all cinematographed films. But the media houses lacked any regulation to that effect even though the reach of audience for the news media channels were perceived to be much higher than audiences of movies. Also, the audiences of movies could be monitored in various cinema halls, etc., whereas news channels should have proper guidelines to adhere to not only regarding the content, but also language of the anchors of such news channels.
The plea claimed legislation pertaining to monitoring and regulation of content to be displayed by media.
The petitioner further claimed that restriction be imposed on the police officials so that the incriminating evidences or information of ongoing investigations are not leaked to the media houses or the public, so that the public does not form an opinion about the case before the investigators and the judiciary.
The plea stated, "No doubt if there is a crime the law has to take its own course to reach its logical conclusion. However, the media cannot decide who has to be the accused and who has to be the victim and also who has to investigate the case. Hence the same has to be regulated and the media houses are to be prevented from publishing such clips in the news to meet the public peace, tranquility and order."
The plea is scheduled to be heard next on the 7th of June.
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