New Delhi: The High Court of Kerala has dismissed a plea seeking guidelines to regulate the activities of the print and electronic media.
A bench led by the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly passed the order on a plea filed by advocate Halvi K.S., who had submitted that the print and electronic media was misusing the right to freedom of speech and expression and creating unrest in the country. The petitioner has also referred to various incidences of media trial which is the very antithesis of the rule of law and can lead to a miscarriage of justice.
According to the petitioner, in the guise of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, media is publishing their prejudiced opinion with the intention of conveying their political agendas.
The petitioner has submitted that the law prevailing in the country to deal with such situations is not sufficient enough to tackle the irresponsible acts of the press and the print and visual media, and in that eventuality, the court should step in, and form guidelines incorporating the restrictions, as envisaged under Article 19 of the Constitution of India by its framers.
The bench, however, dismissed the petition and observed that the principles of law laid down by the apex court in various judgments lay down that it is unequivocal that framing of a general guideline may not be possible, thus, restricting the freedom of press as is held in Sahara India case.
The bench further observed that the Press Council Act, 1978 clearly prescribes a methodology to redress the grievances of any aggrieved person.
The bench concluded its judgement by observing that “we have no hesitation to hold that a public interest litigation to frame guidelines to restrict the media on the basis of the allegations made in the writ petition cannot be entertained and no guidelines can be framed taking into account the contentions put forth by the petitioner. We also feel that the judgements rendered by the apex court would make it clear that the media can be restricted by the courts on a case to case basis. Moreover, a Judge adjudicating any plea before it would be depending solely on the materials available on record, and definitely would not be guided by a press report unless the report itself is a material for consideration in the plea. We are also of the view that the petitioner is never an aggrieved person and no relief can be granted especially in view of the fact that the petitioner has not produced any materials to substantiate the pleadings.”
Read the judgment here;Kerala-High-Court-Aug-20
– India Legal Bureau