The News Broadcasting Standards Authority on Thursday told the Supreme Court that there were “ample guidelines” to deal with media outlets violating laws on reporting sexual abuse, PTI reported. The court, however, expressed doubt over the implementation of the rules, and asked the media body what action it had taken in cases of violation.
“There may be thousands of guidelines,” the bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, said. “The question is of implementation. How many people are there against whom you have taken action? Show us one [case in which you took action].”
The counsel for the NBSA said it had taken action and imposed fines in several cases. The court asked the counsel to file an affidavit with such examples. The bench will next hear the matter on October 22.
The court took strong exception to the absence of representatives from the Press Council of India, the Editors Guild and the Indian Broadcasting Federation. On September 20, the court had issued notices to the four media bodies to seek assistance in dealing with such cases.
“Only NBSA has put in appearance,” the bench said, “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.”
The matter came up when the court was hearing a plea filed by a journalist against a Patna High Court order restraining the media from reporting on the investigation in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case. On September 20, the Supreme Court urged media outlets not to sensationalise incidents of sexual abuse, but said there cannot be a blanket ban on reporting of the investigation in the Muzaffarpur case.
The top court then said the media needs to be cautious and diligent while reporting, and said images of victims of sexual offences cannot be telecast or published, even in the morphed or blurred form.