No FIR against Media Houses until sanctioned by Press Council of India: Plea in SC Cites “Professional Duty” of Republic TV & Zee TV
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No FIR against Media Houses until sanctioned by Press Council of India: Plea in SC Cites “Professional Duty” of Republic TV & Zee TV

The petition primarily draws basis from the recent spate of FIRs against Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary for allegedly inciting hate between two religious communities.

Debayan Roy

A Mumbai-based lawyer has moved the Supreme Court to seek directions so that no FIR can be registered against a journalist or a media house until a sanction for the same is approved by either the Press Council of India or a judicial body nominated by the top court.

Advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay primarily draws basis from the recent spate of FIRs against Republic TV Chief Arnab Goswami and Zee TV head, Sudhir Chaudhary, for allegedly inciting hate between two religious communities.

Upadhyay has stated in his plea that the Supreme Court needs to “preserve and protect the fundamentals rights of the press, electronic and print media guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) Constitution of India due to which general public becomes aware and able to form opinion about the functioning of the respective Governments and officers working under it”.

The petitioner has highlighted how the two channels mentioned in his plea have been crucial in pointing out the reason for the COVID-19 spread in India and facts about the Palghar lynching case.

“Republic TV and Zee News during the spread of pandemic and consequent lockdown in the country telecast news on their respective TV channels and exposed Tablighi Jamaat/Maulana Saad responsible for spreading the deadly Covid 19 virus all over the country. Similarly, the Republic TV questioned the Congress President for maintaining complete silence after the brutal massacre of the two Hindu saints and their driver at Palghar on 16.4.2020,” reads the plea.
Plea in Supreme Court

The petition goes on to state how the two TV channels have been rendering invaluable services to the nation by “raising issues of great public importance, exposing anti-national element and their anti-national activities and sinister design of destabilising the country” and thereby to establish their own theories and way of governance, which cannot be countenanced.

The plea along with prior sanction for FIR against press has also prayed the Court that it issues guidelines so that the sanctioning authority decides the application submitted by aggrieved person/s who seeks to lodge/file FIR/prosecution against the press/media and its people for the offences punishable under sections 295A, 153, 153A, 153 B, 298, 500, 504, 505(2), 506 (2) r/w Section 120-B of I.P.C within a time bound manner.

Upadhyay claims that the two television channels, which have been “targeted”, were performing their “professional responsibility” and “duty towards the people of the country.”

Expressing apprehension of some more grave danger to journalists, the petition states that if the Court does not lay a guideline then there was “every possibility of disgruntled element resorting to silence / crush and suppress media by entangling them in false, frivolous and vexatious FIRs”.

Read Petition

PCI Sanction Petition.pdf
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