October 06, 2018

PCI, Editors Guild, Indian Broadcasting Federation fail to appear before SC


With regard to alleged non-compliance of statutory provisions about disclosure of identity of victims of rape and sexual abuses by the media, the Supreme Court had on September 20 asked four media bodies—including the Press Council of India (PCI), Editors Guild, the Indian Broadcasting Federation, and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA)—to appear before it on October 04 and to assist it over the issue.

However, no representative from the PCI, Editors Guild, and Indian Broadcasting Federation turned up before the court on the said date. Notably, only the NBSA adhered to the court’s order to appear before it.

As only the NBSA appeared before the apex court, the court thus sought to know from it regarding the action that it had taken against media persons who violated the statutory requirement under relevant laws while reporting incidents of rape and sexual abuse.

A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta observed that it had sought the assistance of these bodies in the matter and notices issued against them have already been served.

Taking strong exception to the non-appearance of the three media bodies, the bench stated that "Only NBSA has put in appearance. There is no appearance at all from Press Council of India, Editors Guild, and Indian Broadcasting Federation. It appears that they are not inclined to assist us otherwise they must have put in appearance at least."

With regard to the case, NBSA’s counsel informed the top court that there were "ample guidelines" to deal with such issues.

To this, the bench asked, "There may be thousands of guidelines. The question is of implementation. How many people are there against whom you have taken action?"

The counsel replied that they have taken action in several cases; the bench then said, "show us one".

Contending that action was taken, and in several cases, fines were imposed, the counsel said that he would place the orders passed by the NBSA in such cases.

The bench then said, "Tell us whether these orders have been implemented. Put it in an affidavit." It further added, "Tell us about the orders passed in 2018".

The counsel also informed the bench that regulations were in place to deal with such instances.

The bench added, "We have requested NBSA to inform us on an affidavit with regard to action taken against any person who has violated statutory requirements under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Indian Penal Code." The court also sought to know about the action taken by the NBSA against those who have violated the NBSA guidelines in 2018.

To this, the counsel replied that he would file an affidavit giving all the details within three days.

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