New Delhi: While hearing a batch of writ petitions seeking action against the media for communalization of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi Nizamuddin Markaz, the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana today expressed concerns about the attempts in social media and online portals to give communal colour to news.
The CJI lamented that the web portals are not governed by anything and social media companies listen only to powerful people and not to institutions or common people.
“Twitter, Facebook or YouTube…they never respond to us and there is no accountability. About the institutions they have written badly and they don’t respond and say this is their right. They only worry about powerful men and not judges, institutions or common man. That is what we have seen,”
The CJI also asked if there were any rules governing web portals such as YouTube which showed so much in a minute.
“If you go to YouTube, so much is shown in one minute. You can see so how much fake news there is. Web portals are not governed by anything. There is an attempt to give communal colour to news and that is a problem. Ultimately it brings a bad name to the country,” said CJI.
“Not only communal but also planted news,” Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta responded.
The top law officer of Union added that the new IT Rules are intended to address the very same issues highlighted by the CJI .
The Solicitor General mentioned that the IT Rules have been challenged before various High Courts and the Central Government has field a petition to transfer all of them to the Supreme Court.
“The rules are being challenged by the various High Court’s & various orders are being passed. If your lordship could have a holistic picture as it is an all India issue…”, the Solicitor General submitted. The SG requested the bench to list the transfer petitions along with the present petitions.
The bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, agreed to list the Centre’s transfer petitions on IT Rules along with the present batch of petitions. The petitioner was granted liberty to amend their prayers. The matter will be posted after 6 weeks.
The News Broadcasters Association, which is a respondent in the petitions, told the bench that the Kerala High Court has granted them interim protection from coercive action under the new IT Rules in a challenge made by them.
Responding to the CJI’s observations, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for a petitioner in one of the cases, told the bench that Twitter has “deplatformed” and he has filed a case challenging the suspension of his account.
(Cases : Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind v. Union of India and connected cases).