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Media Has Full Right to Inform, Circulate, Criticize, Advice and Counsel, Says Law Minister

NEW DELHI : Union Minister of Electronics & IT and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad said today that for the Indian Government, freedom of media is integral to polity, duly recognized by the Constitution and reinforced by Judiciary in series of judgements. Addressing the 15th Asia Media Summit here today, the Minister said that the media has full right to inform, circulate, criticize, advice and counsel. The rights of Media under the Constitution are also subject to reasonable restrictions.

Dwelling upon the issue of Ethical Journalism, the Law Minister said that it must be fair, true, properly presented highlighting sights and counter sights and empowering the consumers of news in a decent and independent fashion. The Minister wondered whether the media today, under the garb of sensationalism, paid news, fake news, too much of other insidious practices is addressing to this large issue. This is a matter of debate, the Minister added.

Supporting the principle of self-regulation by the media, Mr. Prasad said that the IT act mandates that the content going through the intermediary is not dangerous, libellous and does not impinge upon the security and integrity of the country nor should it encroach upon the copyrights. On sanctity of privacy, the Minister noted that the Supreme Court had upheld privacy as part of the Fundamental Rights. But, he added that the plea of privacy cannot become a shield for the corrupt and the terrorists. The Minister elaborated that on the issues of terrorism, propagation of hatred and communalization and on the issue of promoting extremism, there has to be a global consensus that needs to be properly enforced.

Dwelling on the challenges of social media, He said that the Government is committed to the freedom of press but there is a need to segregate the real from the dangerous. He said many in the Government today had fought against the emergency where freedom was trampled upon. The Minister said that the Government respects social media as it empowers the common man but the language used sometimes in this medium is a cause of concern.

Mr. Prasad further said that the internet cannot become a tool of neo-imperialism. Referring to internet as one of the finest creations of human mind, he said that it cannot remain the monopoly of a few. He said that if Internet has to be global, it must have linkages with local ideas and culture.

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