EVERGREEN ISSUES RELATED TO CONSTITUTION By: Akash Agrawal
SECTION 295A Why in News? Recently SC quashed criminal case against MS Dhoni and magazine editor, filed under section 295A of IPC, for his depiction as Lord Vishnu on a magazine cover in 2013. Key features of judgment . Section 295A requires action to be deliberate with intention to outrage religious feelings without just cause or excuse. . The section is applicable to only aggravated forms of insult to religion that is meant for disrupting public order. This was already clarified in a 1957 judgment. It also warned lower courts to stop taking reflexive cognizance of cases of little importance related to offending of religious/caste/cultural sentiments of any group.
Section 295A Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India (by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise), insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of three years, or with fine, or with both Impact of judgment . It would reduce the misuse, owing to the subjectivity of section 295A, as the judgement excludes its applicability on casual observations not driven by any bad intention. It clarifies the ambit of this section, which would help protecting individuals and public figures from political activists and overzealous administrative authorities. . It re-establishes balance between Article 19 and Article 25 of the Constitution.
FREEDOM OF PRESS AND MEDIA . India ranks at 136 among 180 nations on the World Press Freedom Index 2017, published by Reporters without Borders . Recent issues when freedom of press has come into question Restricting news agencies to publish any news related to National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) as it will be seen as violation under Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act, 1967 . Order of Inter-ministerial committee instituted by the Information and Broadcasting ministry that the Hindi channel NDTV India be shut down for a day for revealing "strategically sensitive" details during its coverage of the Pathankot attacks. . Pre-censorship of films by CBFC
Issues . The government's decisions violate freedom of media and therefore the citizens of India. the Constitution and is violative of the principles of natural justice moreover self regulation is ineffective. In social media, regulatory body is absent. . Imposing ban without judicial intervention or oversight goes against the spirit of
Way forward There should be detailed guidelines laid down, in relation, to broadcasting/publishing during a terrorist attack or insurgency. The government should work with the media, the armed forces and all the stakeholders to create a system so as to prevent leakages. Media and press has to be more responsible when it comes to broadcasting or publishing such sensitive issues.
. It's time to establish an independent television media watchdog on the lines of the Press Council of India to ensure the freedom of the televised press. The UK has an independent media watchdog Office of Communications (Ofcom) that is recognized by statute and has enforcement powers. .One more way is pre-broadcast or pre-publication censorship of the media but it has been recently rejected by apex court on the basis of Article 19(1)(a) and 19(2) Following suggestions by the Supreme Court and Parliamentary Committees can be feasible options The Supreme Court in (Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal) case suggested for creation of an independent broadcasting media authority along the lines of TRAI The Supreme Court in (Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
In May 2013, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology (2012- 2013) recommended that either there be a statutory body to look into content from both print and electronic media or that the PCI be revamped with real powers to penalize for violation of its code. agencies. For example CBFC should: . Submit an annual report to the central government, containing an analytical study of the trends in the film industry, to be tabled in Parliament each year, . Review the work of regional officers and the Regional and Central Advisory Panels, . Periodically review guidelines laid down for certification of films, etc The media plays a vital role in democracy. So, there is a need to balance its independence and provide an effective mechanism to regulate media at the same time. Certain amount of regulation is necessary as they affect mind of society. But regulation should be done in a manner which does not restrict the artistic expression, freedom of speech etc
IRS ( IT ) | Guinness Book of World Records in Solving Rubiks' Cube | IIT Bombay Alumnus .