Supreme Court Notice to Centre on Petition That Seeks to Regulate Facebook, Twitter

The Supreme Court Monday sought responses from the center and others on a plea seeking framing of law to regulate social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and make them responsible for allegedly spreading fake news and hate speeches.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to the center and others on the plea and tagged it with a pending petition which has sought setting up of a media tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against the media, channels and networks. The apex court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Vineet Jindal who has sought directions to the center to frame law for prosecuting those involved in spreading hate and fake news through social media platforms.

The plea has sought directions to the authorities concerned for carrying out a mechanism for automatic removal of fake news and hate speeches within a short timeframe. It said that freedom of speech and expression is a complex right as it may be subject to reasonable restrictions and it is not absolute and carries with it special duties and responsibilities. The plea, while saying that reaching of social media is much wider than traditional media, has also referred to few communal violence incidents in the country where social media was misused. On January 25, the top court had sought responses from the center, Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on a separate public interest litigation (PIL) which has sought setting up of a media tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against media, channels and networks. The plea has said that media, particularly the electronic, has become like an unruly horse which needs to be tamed.

It has also sought setting up of an independent committee headed by either a former Chief Justice of India or an apex court judge to review the entire legal framework related to media business regulations and suggested guidelines.

Besides the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, PCI and NBA, the top court had also issued notices to News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) on the PIL filed jointly by film maker, Nilesh Navalakha and civil engineer Nitin Memane . The apex court had tagged the PIL with a pending plea on the issue.

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