SC (Supreme Court) Raises Concern Over Gagging Media

Short Notes or Revision Notes

GS-3 Mains 

Question : Analyze the challenges posed by wealthy individuals using pre-trial injunctions to silence media and civil society, highlighting the importance of protecting journalistic expression.

In the News

  • Supreme Court highlights issue of wealthy individuals using pre-trial injunctions to silence media and civil society.
  • This restricts free speech and public’s right to information.

Background

  • Order based on appeal by Bloomberg against a Delhi District Court order directing them to remove an online article.

SC Order Key Highlights

  • Importance of protecting journalistic expression.
  • Courts must be cautious with pre-trial injunctions.
  • SLAPP Suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation):
    • Wealthy entities use lawsuits to silence critics.
    • Prevents public from knowing about important issues.
  • Courts warned about:
    • How injunctions in defamation cases harm free speech.
    • Granting pre-trial injunctions only in exceptional cases.
    • Full trials needed before restricting publication.

Freedom of Press in India

  • Not explicitly mentioned in Article 19, but implied by freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 19(1)(a):Right to express views through any medium (writing, speaking, etc.).
  • Reasonable restrictions allowed for public order, decency, or morality.

Importance of Media

  • Educates and develops the people.
  • Fourth pillar of democracy – informs and educates citizens.
  • Free press holds leaders accountable and provides a platform for open exchange of ideas.

Issues and Challenges

  • Media criticized for bias and sensationalism.
  • Threats, intimidation, and violence against journalists.
  • Media ownership concentration leading to potential bias and self-censorship.
  • Political and corporate influence impacting media independence.
  • Defamation laws and sedition charges used to stifle dissent.

Conclusion and Way Forward

  • India needs continuous efforts to strengthen press freedom.
  • Media should operate without fear or favor, acting as a democratic watchdog.
  • Government should introduce laws limiting control of media by a single entity, promoting an independent press.

 

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