The Supreme court of India slammed the Centre on Thursday, January 28, for not doing anything to curb TV programmes which instigate or impact a community.
The Supreme Court said, "Fair and truthful reporting is not a problem, but it becomes a problem when it is used to agitate others," reported The Tribune.
The apex court referred to the January 26 event, when internet service was shut down in some areas of Delhi due to the violence that cracked after the peaceful tractor rally turned agitative and stressed upon the need for "fair and truthful reporting."
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI), S A Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the central government, "It is a fact that there are programmes which have instigating effect and you being the government is doing nothing about that."
This observation was made while the bench comprising of Justice A S Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian was hearing a batch of pleas which have raised the issue of media reporting of last year's congregation of Tablighi Jamaat during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic.
In multiple media reports last year, the congregation at Nizzamuddin Markaz in New Delhi, which was attended by thousands of Indian and foreign nationals, was cited the main reason of coronavirus spread as it was claimed that attendees carried the infection to different parts of the country.
The CJI said, "Yesterday, you shut down the internet and mobile because of the farmers' visit to Delhi. I am using the non-controversial term (visit). You have shut down internet mobile. These are problems that can arise anywhere. I don't know what happened on TV yesterday."
"Fair and truthful reporting is not a problem. Problem is when it is used to agitate others. It is as important as providing lathis to policemen. It is an important preventive part of the law-and-order situation. The court is not interested in people saying anything on TV but we are concerned about those programmes which have instigation effect," added the CJI.
The court asked the parties to file their affidavits in the matter within three weeks and said the matter will be heard thereafter.