MEDIA AND THE LAW
By Ashok Priyadarshi
Media accords information either through, the print, voice or electronic and is used virtually by all as well as the government for giving and receiving information..
Print media generally known as the press gives information through newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, cartoons etc., and played a great role as the radio owned by the government had not opened much till the launching of the Vividh Bharati Channel and the F.M. band.
The freedom of media is protected under the freedom of expression under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution, as a fundamental right, subject to certain restriction by laws and ban cannot impose on the proposed publication and ban after its publication can be imposed if it violates the norms set by the government or the law and the publishers can be punished accordingly. If any body feels defamed or his right to privacy has been affected, he may sue the author, publisher etc. as provided under the law.
The Right of information gives right to print and publish without the interference or restriction by the government under Article 19 (1) (a) of the India Constitution. And this type of expression invites more discussions and spelling out of the ideas. An independent media is recognized by its quality of information rendered by it. News papers are one of the oldest modes to accord information. In India "The Bengal Gazette" is believed to be the first recognized newspaper.
The Press & Registration of books Act,1867 defines newspaper as any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news , printed, issued periodically, must contain news or comments on news and such news must be public relating to public affairs or matters of public interest.
The Post Office Act 1898 makes it obligatory that a newspaper is registered having a bonafide list of subscribers and is published once a month.
The Press Council Act, 1978 preserves the freedom of media and of maintaining and improving the standard of newspapers and news agencies in India, if a person believes that the write up in the newspaper is not healthy and may affect the public interest at large, may report the same to the Press Council , which may probe and if the allegations found correct may take necessary action, but it''s over all duty is to protect the freedom of the media.
Parliamentary Proceedings ( Protection Of Publication) Act and Article 361A of the Indian Constitution also specify that media will be immune from civil and criminal liabilities for publishing any proceeding of the parliament provided it is a substantially true report, is not actuated by malice and is for public good.
The restrictions on commercial advertisements through media is determined with reference to Clause (6) of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution as the Supreme Court in Hamdard Dawakhana vs. Union of India AIR 1960 SC 554 holds that advertisement is for the promotion of the product and its aim is to bring it to the notice of the public thus it cannot be said that the right to publish and distribute commercial advertisement advertising an individual''s personal business is a part of the freedom of speech guaranteed under 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution.
The Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 restricts the publication of such advertisement that promotes enmity between classes concerning the election, or uses such religious symbols, symbols or flags and emblems.
The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956 covers all modes of publications including drawings, photographs etc., which tend toorrupt a young person upto 20 years of age in whose hand it may fall. The government can even forfeit such publications and imposes punishment for sale advertisement of such publication
The Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) act, 1950 has imposed restriction to use emblems, seals, flags, pictorial representation of the government of India, President, governor in any kind of an advertisement for private use.
It is believed that the law regarding the media has to be specific as the interest of ''security of the state'' is sought to be protected against publications in the press by the enactment of various laws take care of the security, as well the interest of the state , dignity and security of the people at large from different angles and aspects through the Officials Secrets Act , Customs Act , Indian Penal Code, Dramatic Performances Act, Code of Criminal Procedure, The Police ( Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922, The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, Immoral Traffic Act, The Indecent Representation Of Women (Prohibition) Act,1986, Cinematography Act, 1952 etc. ,which empowers the state to impose ban on publications of report, books articles advertisements etc. which are in violation of the norms laid down in these laws.
The judiciary can initiate a contempt proceeding against the media and punish if it feels that it has been scandalized and disrespect has been shown. The power of contempt is civil or criminal. Criminal contempt proceeding is drawn when something written, spoken or published has tried to scandalizes or tends to scandalize the judiciary. Cases have also been filed against the media by many for defamation in both civil and criminal forms.