Jus Rerum 2020-10-02: 14 Min

MEDIA LAWS IN INDIA AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Author: Falguni Agrawal

Student of Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, New Law College, Pune

Picture Source

ABSTRACT:

Broad communications frameworks of the world fluctuate from one another as indicated by the economy, nation, religion and culture of various social orders. In social orders, which followed socialism and despotism, similar to the previous USSR and China, there were constraints of what the media could state about the legislature. Moving our view to the Indian viewpoint and its arrangement of Parliamentary Democracy, the facts demonstrate that the press is free however dependent upon certain sensible limitations forced by the Constitution of India, 1950, as altered ("Constitution"). Before the effect of globalization was felt, the broad communications was totally constrained by the administration, which let the media venture just what the legislature needed people in general to see and in a manner by which it needed general society to see it. However, with the onset of globalization and privatization, the situation has undergone a humongous change. These changes were shown or depicted in this article to a great extent. 

INTRODUCTION:

“Publicity is the soul of justice. Where there is no publicity, there is no justice.” Media implies the communication methods or tools used to store and deliver information. The term refers to components of the media communication industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting, and advertising and much more. Communication is the system, which we use to sell data by different strategies, and media is the medium or instrument of putting away or conveying data. 'Media' the well-known term, among other things utilized as 'Press' signifies the print and electronic data bearers – the Newspapers and Magazines, Radio, Television and presently incorporates the Internet as new media. The word medium comes from the Latin word medius (middle). The word communication is derived from the Latin root communicate. 

History of Media Law:

At the point when Europeans compose on the historical backdrop of the media, they allude to the Acta diurna of the Roman Empire as intently similar to the paper of today. In India, the Rock Edicts of Emperor Ashok (c.273-236 BC) engraved on the rocks contained in bounty estimates received and guidelines were given by him. This isn't altogether different from the news substance of present-day media. In that time when Ashok, the Great, utilized this innovation for conveying his message all through his immense domain, there is no reference to limitations on correspondence forced by law. In any case, the Arthashastra composed initially in the rule of Chandragupta Maurya (c. 324-300 BC) by Kautilya specifies discipline for spreading bogus bits of gossip. 

Overview of Media Law:

There are a number of different laws that show the exhibition of media in India. In the hour of the British Raj, numerous laws identified with the Press were established. In the post-Independence time, the different Governments have established a lot more media-related laws. Media being an exceptionally ground-breaking impact on the general public is managed and constrained by different enactments instituted now and then. These have been described as under in the subhead. 

Established Provisions

The Indian Constitution doesn't give any right to the media independently. However, there is a roundabout arrangement for a media opportunity. It gets from Article 19(1)(a). This Article ensures the right to speak freely of discourse. The opportunity of broad communications is gotten by implication from this Article. Article 19 of our Constitution manages the privilege to opportunity and it lists certain rights concerning singular right to speak freely and articulation and so on. These arrangements are significant and fundamental, which lie at the very base of freedom.

Article 19 of the Indian constitution lays down – 

"All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably, and without arms, to form associations or unions, to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside in any part of the territory of India, to acquire hold and dispose of property and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.”

Freedom v Censorship:

With more than 1000 films being released every year, in India censorship of films has not only been a debate in the legal fraternity but also a topic of discussion at the family dinner table. The recent delay and cuts in the movie "Padmavati" are just one of the many examples of censorship in India. All the movies made and released every time must fulfil all the criteria issued by the Censorship Board. 

What is the need for Censorship of a film?

In 1970, a Supreme Court judge in K. A. Abbas v. The Union of India & Anr, recognized the universal treatment of motion pictures different from that of other forms of art and expression. He further insisted that it has a deep impact on adolescent children more than that on mature women and men. The need of censorship thus arises from the prolonged effect that a motion picture has on an individual that doesn't occur in painting, book or play. 

Press & Parliamentary Privileges- Article 105 – The Constitution perceives the benefits of Parliament and state lawmaking bodies under Articles 105 and 194, individually. Certain benefits, similar to the right to speak freely inside the assembly, are systematized under these arrangements. On the others, the Constitution says that lawmaking bodies appreciate similar benefits as those of the House of Commons. Be that as it may, even in the Constituent Assembly, many were annoyed by the reference to the British Parliament, while others felt the arrangements were ambiguously worded.

ACTS TO COMPARE:

The Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, 1956 

The Newspaper (Prices and Pages) Act, 1956 has been enacted to provide for the regulation of the prices charged for newspapers in relation to their pages and of matters connected therewith for the prevention of unfair competition among newspapers so that newspapers can have fuller opportunities of freedom of expression. 

The Press Council Act, 1978 

The Press Council Act, 1978 was enacted to establish a Press Council to maintain the freedom of the Press and for maintaining the standards of newspaper and news agencies in India. The Act established the Press Council of India which is a body corporate having perpetual succession, with effect from 1st March 1979. The Press Council of India is empowered to make observations in respect of conduct of any authority including Government if considered necessary for the performance of its functions under the Act. 

LAWS APPLICABLE FOR FILMS:

Cinematograph Act, 1952 

The Cinematograph Act of 1952 has been passed to make provisions for certification of cinematographed films for exhibition utilizing Cinematograph. Under this Act, the Board of Film Censor (i.e. Central Board of Film Certification) with advisory panels at regional centres is empowered to examine every film and sanction it whether for unrestricted exhibition or exhibition restricted to adults. The Board is additionally enabled to decline to authorize a film for public show. The Certification cycle is as per The Cinematograph Act, 1952, The Cinematograph (confirmation) Rules, 1983, and the rules given by the Central Government u/s 5 (B).

At present films are certified under 4 categories:

“• U - Unrestricted Public Exhibition

• UA - Unrestricted Public Exhibition - but with a word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years

• A - Restricted to adults

• S - Restricted to any special class of persons”

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS:

The Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. State (2015)[1] observed that there are three concepts which are fundamental in understanding the reach of this most basic of human rights which are discussion, advocacy and incitement. Mere discussion or even advocacy of a particular cause however unpopular is at the heart of Article 19(1)(a). It is only when such discussion or advocacy reaches the level of incitement that Article 19(2) kicks in. It is at this stage that a law may be made curtailing the speech or expression that leads inexorably to or tends to cause public disorder or tends to cause or tends to affect the sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, and so on.

Way back in 1972, the Supreme Court in Bennett Coleman & Co. v. Union of India[2] had held that although Article 19(1)(a) does not mention the freedom of the press, it is the settled law that freedom of speech and expression includes freedom of the press and circulation. It had earlier observed in Express Newspapers Ltd. v. Union of India (1958)[3] that the Press has the right of free propagation and free circulation without any previous restraint on publication.

KA Abbas v. UOI, Bobby Art International[4] is the first case where the question relating to censorship of films arises. In this case, the Supreme Court considered the important question relating to pre-censorship of cinematograph films in relation to the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression conferred by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The petitioner, for this situation, tested the choice of the Board of Film Censors in rejecting a 'U' declaration for his film "A Tale of Four Cities". While the case was forthcoming in the Supreme Court, the Central Government to give the 'U' authentication gave certain cuts were made in the film.

The following two issues were before the court for consideration:

(a) That pre-censorship itself cannot be tolerated under the freedom of speech and expression; and

(b) That even if it were a legitimate restraint on freedom, it must be exercised on very definite principles which leave no room for arbitrary action. 

Taking into consideration all these, Hidayatullah, C.J. made it clear that censorship of films including pre-censorship was constitutionally valid in India as it was a reasonable restriction within the ambit of Article 19(2). 

The Delhi High Court in Dr. Shashi Tharoor v. Arnab Goswami & Anr. (2017)[5] has held that one of the admissible heads of limitations on the opportunity of articulation is maligning and for a case of criticism to succeed, a person of note needs to demonstrate furthermore that the portrayal was hastened by perniciousness.

Two-dimensional trials of essential and relatively must be fulfilled before requesting a delay of distribution, specifically, need to forestall genuine and significant danger to the reasonableness of preliminary and healthy impact of such an order exceeds malicious impact to the free articulation.

CONCLUSION: 

In this age of media explosion, one cannot simply remain confined to the boundaries of the traditional media. The media world has expanded its dimensions by encompassing within its orbit, the widening vistas of cyber media etc. As an outcome, the laws administering them are likewise various. It isn't inside the extent of this Article to manage the entire subject of media laws, however, this Article makes an individual mindful of the different significant enactment influencing the different parts of Media Communication, making him mindful of his privileges and encouraging him to practice them inside the structure of law existing in India and in the end facilitating the reason for "The right to speak freely Of Speech And Expression" and "Spread of Knowledge".


End Notes

1.  WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.167 OF 2012

2.  1973 AIR 106, 1973 SCR (2) 757

3. 1986 AIR 872, 1985 SCR Supl. (3) 382

4. 1971 AIR 481 1971 SCR (2) 446

5. CS(OS) 253/2017


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