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Why Media One channel was banned by the I&B ministry?

Why Media One channel was banned by the I&B ministry?

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  • GS 2 || Polity || Constitutional Framework || Fundamental rights

Introduction

  • The right to freely express one’s own opinions/views through speech, writing, printing, pictures, or any other means is known as freedom of speech and expression.
  • The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed to all Indian citizens under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. However, this liberty is not unlimited, and under Article 19(2), appropriate limitations on the use of this right for certain purposes may be imposed.

Why in the news?

  • Recently, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) informed a Malayalam-language news channel that its broadcast license had been canceled.
  • The cancellation order cited a Home Ministry order that had denied security clearance to the channel.
Powers of I&B Ministry- Regulation of content

●       Until 2021, it had the powers to regulate content across all sectors — TV channels, newspapers and magazines, movies in theatres and on TV, and the radio — barring the internet.

●       In February 2021, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, extended its regulatory powers over internet content too, especially on digital news platforms and Over the Top (” OTT “) platforms.

●       There is also a new mechanism the I&B Ministry adopts: It has used emergency powers it has under the new IT Rules to block certain YouTube channels and social media accounts based on inputs from intelligence agencies.

 

What Kind of Content is Not Allowed?

●       There are no specific laws on content allowed or prohibited in print and electronic media, radio, films, or OTT platforms.

●       The content on any of these platforms has to follow the free speech rules of the country. Article 19(1) of the Constitution, while protecting freedom of speech, also lists certain “reasonable restrictions” including content related to

▪        The security of the state

▪        Friendly relationship with foreign states

▪        Public order

▪        Decency

▪        Morality, etc.

●       Action can be taken if any of these restrictions is violated.

 

Article 19 guarantees the following rights-

However, Article 19 is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions on free speech for issues- 

Significance of freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution

  • Societal good- Liberty to express opinions and ideas without hindrance, and especially without fear of punishment plays a significant role in the development of a particular society and ultimately for that state. It is one of the most important fundamental liberties guaranteed against state suppression or regulation.
  • Self-development-Free speech is an integral aspect of each individual’s right to self-development and fulfillment. Restrictions inhibit our personality and its growth. The reflective mind is conscious of options and the possibilities for growth. Freedom of speech is also closely linked to other fundamental freedoms. Thus, for full-fledged development of personality, freedom of speech and expression is highly essential.
  • Democratic value-Freedom of speech is the bulwark of democratic Government. This freedom is essential for the proper functioning of the democratic process as it allows people to criticize the government In a democracy, freedom of speech and expression open up channels of free discussion of issues. Freedom of speech plays a crucial role in the formation of public opinion on social, political, and economic matters.
  • Ensure pluralism- Freedom of Speech reflects and reinforces pluralism, ensuring that diversity is validated and promoting the self-esteem of those who follow a particular lifestyle.

Way forward

  • The term “reasonable restrictions” is not defined in the Constitution. The Supreme Court of India, in Narottamdas v. the State of M.P., affirmed the following factors for determining the reasonableness of restrictions:
  • Non-arbitrary: The term “reasonable restriction” means that a restriction placed on a person’s ability to exercise a right should not be arbitrary or disproportionate.
  • The nature of the restriction and the process established by the statute for implementing the restrictions on individual freedom should be considered by the court when considering the reasonableness of the statute. The reasonableness of a statute is determined not only by its text but also by its procedural elements.
  • Objectivity: The acceptability and reasonability of a restriction must be judged objectively and in the public interest, rather than from the perspective of those who are subjected to the limits or on the basis of abstract factors.
  • Enforcing the Directive Principles of State Policy: A restriction imposed for the purpose of securing the purposes outlined in the Directive Principles of State Policy may be considered a justifiable restriction.

Conclusion

  • India is a democratic country, and citizens have a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech and expression, which they can exercise through the Indian legal system. The people of India created the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression in order to ensure a free and equitable society. The courts have supported the limitations that can be imposed, but they have also stated that the government’s involvement in this freedom must be limited. One of the most important human rights is freedom of expression.

References