The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to file a status report on action taken against media channels that are not members of the News Broadcasting Standards Association for violating the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, reported Bar and Bench. The order came on a plea filed by actor Rakul Preet Singh.
The actor had in September moved the High Court to restrain media from publishing and broadcasting unsubstantiated news about her in connection with a drugs case being investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau. The High Court had ruled in her favour, directing media houses to exercise restraint. Various news channels had reported defamatory content against the actor after she was summoned in the drugs case related to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
On Thursday, Justice Prathiba M Singh also took on record two status reports filed by the News Broadcasting Standards Association, or NBSA, and the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on action that has already been taken.
The NBSA told the High Court that it has examined Singh’s complaint and issued orders against various member-channels. It also placed the copies on record.
In its report, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry also said that it has taken action. The High Court noted that the ministry has also issued advisories to all private channels to adhere to the programme code under the Cable TV Networks Act. The ministry’s report said that it considered Singh’s petition as a representation and sent it to the News Broadcasters Association and asked for a report, reported Live Law. The News Broadcasters Association is a private association of current affairs and news television broadcasters in India.
According to the information given by the News Broadcasters Association, the report said, the NBSA asked three news channels to air an apology and others to take down online reports against the actor along with the social media posts of the articles.
During the hearing, Advocate Aman Hingorani, representing Singh, said that the ministry should take action against non-NBSA members under the Cable Television Networks Act. Hingorani told the High Court that some links to objectionable material that was broadcast have been taken down by media channels after they were found guilty by the NBSA.
He said that Singh can no longer access the material to provide more information about it to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. He then urged the ministry to seek such information directly from the channels.
The court directed Singh to give details of the links if she has them and also asked the ministry to seek information from the news channels if the content were taken down.
Hingorani also said that proper action was yet to be taken against several channels, pointing out that in some cases they were let off with only a warning. He claimed that Zee TV has not aired an apology till date.
The Court then directed the ministry to file a further status report after necessary action is taken against erring channels under the Cable Television Networks Act in six weeks. The matter has been listed for further hearing on May 20.