'Media Has Become Highly Polarised': Bombay HC Hears PILs Seeking Regulation of Reportage
Sushant Singh Rajput
The Bombay High Court on Friday observed that the media has become "highly polarised" and changed over time while journalists were "neutral" in the past. Hearing PILs alleging media trial in the reportage of the Sushant Singh Rajput's death case, the court also remarked that it was a question not of regulation but "checks and balances".
During the hearing, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the case, told the court that it had not leaked any information related to the matter to the media. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the CBI, asserted that the Enforcement Directorate(ED) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which are also probing cases related to the actor's death by suicide in June, too had not leaked any information.
All the three central agencies had filed affidavits in the court stating that they had not leaked any probe-related information, he said. "We know our responsibilities and there is no question of leaking information by any of the agencies," the ASG added.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing final arguments on public interest litigations(PIL) seeking that the media be asked to be restrained in its coverage of the probe into the actor's death. The court is hearing arguments on whether a statutory mechanism is required to regulate the TV news content.
As lawyers of news channels cited old judgments to argue against a statutory regulatory mechanism, the court remarked that the media has changed. "The media was neutral then (in the past). It is now highly polarised….This is not a question of regulation, this is a question of checks and balances. People forget where to draw lines. Do it within lines."
"You want to criticize the government, do it. The issue is someone has died and the allegation is you are interfering," the court added.
The hearing will continue next week. At an earlier hearing, the petitioners, which include a group of retired police officers, had claimed that news channels were broadcasting sensitive information.
"How were the channels getting access to such information?" the petitioners asked, alleging that probe agencies must have been their sources. The Union government, National Broadcasting Standards Authority and the news channels which are party to the case told the court that the electronic media has a self-regulatory mechanism and the state must not have any control over their content.