[TV Today v Newslaundry] Proper to remark, publish on social media a part of free speech underneath Article 19(1)(a): Delhi Excessive Court docket
Newslaundry’s ‘right to comment’
In the present case, Newslaundry had asserted that is has unrestricted ‘right to comment’. This right to comment on the content created by others was claimed as an exercise in public interest, they had argued.
Its counsel stated that since the media had unbridled power on account of the impact of its broadcast and reach, and since unlike the print media, there was no regulation of the TV channels and also the social media, an unrestricted right to comment on each other’s content would steer the media into communicating and disseminating
However, Justice Menon has held that the Court cannot accept this self-appointment by Newslaundry as the ‘Regulator’ of the contents of the media because mechanisms exist for redressal of grievances related to content of news channels and for social media content.
“It is obvious that there can be no “free for all” in the regulatory sphere. Every individual or organization cannot claim authority to regulate – the chaos can be imagined – there will be only regulators and none willing to bid by regulations!!”
The judge added that ex facie, there is no public interest in the particular programming of content and broadcast of content by Newslaundry.
“Every media house and channel on TV or the social-media platforms, including that of the defendants No.1 to 9, have their own philosophy, which gets reflected in the manner of reportage and content of the programs and that is not necessarily a bad thing,” the single judge opined.
Justice Menon further said that it cannot accept an assertion of supervisory rights by one media (in this case Newslaundry) over another.
“Also hyperbolic is their claim that it is their criticism of the programs of the main stream media, including of the plaintiff, that push them into rectifying mistakes and that therefore, their programs were invaluable in public interest, and as a corollary, therefore, their right to comment and criticize cannot be restricted.”