Court seeks government reply on TV channels’ regulation

August 25th, 2008 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday sought the government’s reply on a plea by the Asaram Ashram Trust to enforce guidelines to regulate television news channels.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued notice to the government asking it to detail the extent to which the guidelines for regulating news channels are being enforced.

It issued the notice after being told that the Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995 and rules relating to it seek regulation of electronic media.

The bench issued the notice on a lawsuit by the Sant Shree Asaramji Ashram Trust, which objected to the reporting of deaths of three children at its schools in Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

The bench, however, rejected a plea by the trust to issue directions to regulate the electronic media.

“We will try to find out some mechanism,” it said while issuing the notice.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the trust, contended that the television news channels should not be permitted to telecast “one-sided reports”.

He wanted the channels to highlight “the versions of other sides” as well while reporting an event to ensure that the news report was balanced.

Terming some news reports on the children’s deaths in the trust’s ashrams as “irresponsible”, Rohtagi said these reports had tarnished the image of the Asaram Bapu Ashram, which runs religious and charitable units all over the country.

He said though the forensic reports confirmed that the two students had died of drowning, a section of the electronic media termed the deaths as mysterious.

He said compared the case of the Asaram Trust with that of Noida murder victim Aarushi’s father Rajesh Talwar, who had been arrested for the crime before his eventual release.

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