High Court seeks regulation of online social media news agencies, portals

High Court seeks regulation of online social media news agencies, portals

High Court seeks regulation of online social media news agencies, portals

Srinagar, Aug 03 : 

The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has asked the government to inform it if online news portals and agencies on social media are required to be registered and, if so, whether permission under law has been granted to them.

Directing the government to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging mushrooming of news portals on social media, a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar also sought to know whether any agency is examining the contents of the news circulated by these portals.

The PIL filed by Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Forum, a Trust, through its General Secretary is seeking direction to the government to not allow online news networks and portals to function without proper license or permission.

The PIL also prays for appointment of a regulatory authority for grant of permissions to the social media news channels, networks and news portals.

The PIL underscores that details sought by the petitioner under Right to Information Act from Director Information Jammu and Kashmir do not attest to any permission having been granted to any person for running the online news agencies and channels.

“ In absence of any permission having been granted by the competent authority for running a news portal it is sufficient to infer that there is no proper, legal and regulatory mechanism in place at present with the result a state of confusion prevails on the subject as to the genuineness of any news transmitted by such channels and portals,” pleads the PIL.

“ Every person with a hanging camera and holding a mic poses himself as a journalist irrespective of the fact whether he or she is authorized and permitted to work as journalist and whether he or she has the requisite qualification” alleges the PIL.

“ Fake journalists running Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter pages have become a new virus that has spread everywhere in Kashmir. 

They continue to harass officials to create viral videos and sensational news stories and such steps also tend to tarnish the image of real journalists and media persons and therefore such vagrants need to be discouraged,” reads the PIL.

“ Real professional journalists from major newspapers, news channels and news agencies follow a strict code of ethics,” it states.

With regard to monitoring of cable operators, the PIL says under cable networking law every District Magistrate, in his respective jurisdiction, is competent and empowered to exercise effective control over the cable operators.

“ Under law it is obligatory for every cable operator to ensure that National/Doordarshan channels are put on air to facilitate common people to view official media in the country. 

Most of the cable operators are guilty of blacking out the DD National channels in their areas of operation and respective District Magistrates do not take cognizance of this grave negligence”.

After hearing advocate Shafqat Nazir on behalf of the petitioner and Advocate General D C Raina on behalf of the government, the court sought J&K government’s response on the PIL through its Principal Secretary Information Department, Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu besides Director Information Jammu and Kashmir by September 1.

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