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The Necessity for Laws Protecting Rights of Media

Media, the Fourth pillar of India’s democracy’s fundamental objective is to serve the people. The democratic system fails time without free media. The essential requirement of democracy is the freedom to the press. The laws governing the press in the genuinely democratic countries are those which only seek to protect the fundamental rights of individuals and ensure the maintenance of peace and tranquillity.[1]


Freedom of speech and expression is very sacrosanct right for a vibrant democracy. [2]

-David A. Anderson


ROLE OF MEDIA IN A DEMOCRACY

Globally, media has played a significant role in preserving democracy, a tool that connects persons to the public to bring in reality. In the last few decades, India has witnessed not only positive as well as negative impacts all over media. The electronic media these days has reached even to the poor due to the present outbreak of the corona pandemic. Online seminars, conferences, and so on has lead the media to reach faster. It has also lead to social and economic awareness in society. Media has always played an important role, most importantly at the time when issues like Triple Talaq, Sabarimala came as a topic of violation of some rights, and it was with the help of media which gave a path to the mode of communication.


ROLE OF MEDIA IN INDIA

In India, undoubtedly media enjoys plenty of freedom. Whenever it is threatened the reaction is Vehement . Freedom of the press is a fundamental right that the government itself can not violate but still, it is the most violated right. There have been various bad faces of media as there have been constant media and press freedom violations. All abuses by political leaders, threats from criminal groups, police violence, or threats by a corrupt local official.[3]


If we look at the Indian culture of impunity towards journalists' attacks, it is a clear fact that the main suspects are criminals, a celebrity of high connections, government officials, and so on.


When story can’t be killed,

The storyteller is silenced


In 2018, three journalists were murdered for their work: Navin Nischal of Dainik Bhaskar, Sandeep Sharma of News World, and Shujaat Bukhari of Rising Kashmir.[4] And many such attacks are still happening every single day. After having Article 19(1), the journalists are being shut be the high authority officials for uncovering the truths. The journalism profession is in danger. Furthermore, no official records are also not seen when it comes to attacks of Journalists. At the time when some of the journalists opted for legal proceedings, thinking of their own and families' safety their employees didn’t support them.


MEDIA TRAILS AND ITS ILL EFFECTS

These days there have also been various negative facets of media, like- paid news, extortion by the media, media trial, etc. These fields need independent research and mere opinion doesn’t lead to a conclusion but rather creates an unbalanced situation all over the country and is of Human rights violation by the media. The very common aspect topic these days has been media trials, the character assassination, in cases like the double murder case, before the court decision only the media declared Arushi's parents – Doctor Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar has as a guilty and gave tagline of ‘Murderers’. Later when the investigation team declared the parents of not being guilty but still the parents are noticed as murderers.


Similarly, in a Sankararaman murder case, serious campaigns were launched against Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, which continued till months and to that extent that it ruined Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati’s reputation all over the nation and even of the institution as well. But when in 2013, Jayendra Ji has acquitted no media came to highlight the reality and truth. Same thing is happening in Sushant’s case as well. The print media also follows the same trend, this media mostly never fails to make wrong reporting, many a time headlines are declared and made out without right reporting’s and whenever the media is questioned, the reaction is Vehement or else they correct a very minute level or somewhere at the last page.


THE CURRENT SCENARIO

The most reputed news channel i.e. NDTV has apologized in several instances.[5] When Prannoy Roy showed P.O.K as a part of Pakistan, he had to apologize for the same. The problem begins when the topic related to common people arises. Then the life of the targeted person turns to be at risk, most recently, Khurshid Anwar, a JNU scholar committed suicide for being media-trailed for two days. In the word press freedom index report of 2019, India stood 142nd among 180 but in 2020 report the rank lowered by 2 i.e. India ranked 140th, this shows that media is improving.


At present, Maharashtra, is the only first state of India who has passed Maharashtra Media person and Media institutions Bill, 2017. The first known law of India taken up to protect the journalists. The bill recommends punishment for a term of 3 years and fine up to Rs 50 thousand or both in case of an attack on media persons on duty. Also, the Maharashtra legislation says, the offender shall be liable for to pay the compensation for the damage caused to the media person and not only that but shall also be liable for medical expenses incurred to the media person on duty while attack. It says that the ill- acts against the media persons or Journalists will not be tolerated and will be treated as cognizable, non-bailable, and will be investigated only by higher officials not less than a rank of DYSP or ACP. And if false complaints are filed by any media person then will have to face the same circumstances i.e. he or she can be given the same punishment.


CONCLUSION

Undoubtedly, Media is the most powerful weapon in the modern era of governing systems. The right to freedom of speech and expression is the apex of freedom of the Media industry. But this excess freedom has turned the scenario, it is turning out to be a bully of fundamental rights. There have been various circumstances when violated the Fundamental rights like the right to correct information and accurate broadcast. It is time for the government to make laws or to set up an autonomous body for the media with regulatory guidelines.


Furthermore, the risk factor for the profession of journalism should also be taken while making laws. The range of threatens is increasing day by day and they are being worried before publishing any true news and online harassment, defamation, bullying, trolling are very common. The media industry needs effective laws to work with transparency unlike the Government of Maharashtra the whole nation needs such laws for the protection of their rights.


ENDNOTES [1]Definition of Media Law and Ethics, Law Media. Blog (Jun 13,2011,11:59 PM), https://media-laws.blogspot.com/2011/06/definition-of-media-law-and-ethics.html [2] David A. Anderson, The Press and Democratic Dialogue, 127 Harvard Law Review. F. 331 (2014) [3] Sakshee Saxena, Need For Laws Protecting Rights Of Media, Legal Service India, May 12, 2020. [4] Bansari Kamdar, Journalism in India: A Dangerous Pursuit? , The Diplomat, October 31, 2018. [5] Vishal Sharma, REGULATORY MECHANISM FOR ELECTRONIC MEDIA: PROTECTING FREEDOM OF SPEECH FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF UNCONTROLLED MEDIA, 20 Ili Law Review 2 (2018), http://ili.ac.in/pdf/vsharma.pdf ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This blog has been authored by Riya Gupta who is a 2nd Year B.B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Presidency University, Bangalore.

[PUBLICATION NO. TLG_BLOG_20_6804]

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