Hate speech: SC issues notice to Centre on PIL seeking to regulate Facebook, Twitter

Petitioner says misuse of social media has led to a few communal violence incidents

Hate speech: SC issues notice to Centre on PIL seeking to regulate Facebook, Twitter

File photo of Supreme Court

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking rules to regulate social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in order to hold them to account for allegedly spreading fake news and hate speech.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre to respond to the petition filed by advocate Vineet Jindal and clubbed it with a petition that demanded setting up of an independent media tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against TV news channels.

Jindal wanted the top court to direct the Centre to frame law for prosecuting those involved in spreading hate speech and fake news through social media platforms and set up a mechanism for automatic removal of fake news and hate speeches within a short timeframe.

The petitioner sought to emphasise that freedom of speech and expression wasn’t absolute and it was subject to reasonable restrictions. Its exercise was coupled with duties and responsibilities.

Maintaining that reach of social media was much wider than traditional media, the petitioner said misuse of such platforms has led to a few communal violence incidents.

Last month, the top court had issued notices to the Centre, Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on another PIL filed by film maker Nilesh Navalakha seeking setting up of an independent media tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against TV news channels.

Navalakha had contended that a citizen-led independent Media Tribunal was needed to hear and expeditiously adjudicate on complaints against media businesses.

"Over the last few years, media trials, hate speech, propaganda news, paid news, have become the order of the day, thereby impeding the right to a fair trial of victims and right to fair and proportionate reporting,” Navalakha had submitted. 

He had contended that “reckless reportage by the electronic media without accountability can, by no stretch of imagination, be read into the right to freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by the electronic media.”

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