New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a reply from media regulators such as the Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) on selective reporting and communalizing the Tablighi Jamaat issue. The petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind accused media of using phrases like “corona jihad”, “corona terrorism” and “corona bombs” while describing the Nizamuddin Markaz incident.
The bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna, and V Ramasubramanian told the petitioner lawyer that it would examine the standards of reporting on the Nizamuddin Markaz incident after media bodies like NBSA submits a report. While Dushyant Dave, the Jamiat’s counsel expressed the concern of fake news on social media and insisted that the I&B Ministry must take cognizance.
On behalf of the centre, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said that the petitioner has not specified any instance, and asking for a blanket gag over the entire media is wrong. In the affidavit submitted to the apex court, it mentioned that blanket gag against the media to prevent reporting on the incident would violate the fundamental rights to inform the public, under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
The Centre said that the facts cited in these news reports are “neither per se false nor per se fake” and such reports cannot be censured.
The centre further said that after the Jamaat incident, it directed social media platforms to take down 743 URLs for their communal post.
The court was also informed by PCI advocate that it received more than 50 complaints and are looking into it. While, advocate Nisha Bhambani, appearing for NBSA, said the bench that they received more than 100 flagged contents.
The bench observed, “It is our experience that governments do not act till they are directed.” Replying to Mehta’s protests, the court said, “We are not criticizing the government but they generally act only when directed by the court. That is the purpose for which the courts are there.”
Jamaat has sought the SC to direct the government to stop the dissemination of fake news and spreading communal bigotry to the Markaz incident.