Apex court frowns on TV news channels for showing violenceOctober 15th, 2008 - 11:48 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Frowning on the tendency of many television news channels to show explicit scenes of violence, the Supreme Court Wednesday urged the government to expeditiously enact a law to regulate the electronic media.Disapproving of the government’s tardiness in enacting the law, a bench headed by Justice B.N. Agrawal, however, allowed it to evolve an alternative, mandatory mechanism to regulate the TV medium till the enactment of the law.
The bench, which also included Justice G.S. Singhvi, and Justice Aftab Alam was hearing a public interest lawsuit by the civil rights body Common Cause seeking curbs on scenes of violence and sex on television.
The bench allowed the government to go ahead with its plans to develop a mandatory mechanism to regulate the television news channels after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam assured it that the government was doing its best to evolve a political consensus in consultation with various states governments to enact the law.
The law officer apprised the court that pending its efforts to evolve consensus on the sensitive issue, the government has taken steps like appointing former chief justice J.S. Verma as ombudsman for the print media and developing a “content code” for the visual media.
“Is there a single day out of 365 in the year, when a family can sit together to watch television without an assault on their basic senses?” asked Justice Singhvi, while disapproving of the TV news channels to show explicit scenes of violence and sex.
Justice Singhvi also recounted his personal experience of being an “unfortunate witness” to a man burning himself to death in Patiala and another one leaping to death from a tall building in Hyderabad in full public view with television crews filming the entire sequence and then gleefully proceeding to air the gory scenes without making any effort to save the victims.
Endorsing the need of a law to regulate media, Justice Alam, however, cautioned the government to ensure that the proposed laws or measures to regulate the media do not curtail its fundamental right of speech and expression.
“I like certain things on television, I remain neutral to certain other things while I detest some others. But this does not mean that I should sit in the judgement,” remarked Justice Alam.