Recently, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Supreme Court (SC) judge, said that freedom of speech and expression faces insidious and indirect challenges with the rapid proliferation of media through the internet while speaking at Harvard India Conference, Live Law reported.
He claimed that the absence of stringent regulations and legal frameworks meant that private interests are beginning to dictate what is reported in newsrooms. He added that ease of dissemination of information had been a ‘double-edged sword’, which provides an accessible platform for democratising voices but also to fake news and narratives.
He said, “In today’s age and day, which is characterised by easy and rapid proliferation of media via the Internet, a retreating State and an overwhelming level of privatisation, the freedom of speech and expression faces far more insidious and indirect challenges. The absence of more stringent regulation or a framework of law that regulate control and ownership of media houses has unfortunately meant that private interests are having a chilling effect and beginning to dictate what is reported on in the news in a newsroom.”
He continued, “The ease of disseminating information and media has been a double-edged sword. It has led to a democratisation of voicing opinions by providing an accessible platform enabled cross-jurisdictional dissemination debate and protest and unprecedented access to knowledge.
But it has also made the spread of fake news and false narratives and hate speech that much more easier. It is imperative for us to protect and promote the former and direct concerted of efforts in the form of legislation in its absence judicial intervention to tackle the latter.”
He stated, “The power of art, whether it is theatre or films or songs or cartoons or even satire to disseminate ideas is compelling. If these ideas are not acceptable to the influential and the powerful, they attempt even in democracies to muffle them.”