The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to file a status report on the action taken against various TV channels which are not members of the News Broadcasting Standards Association (NBSA) for alleged violation of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act in their news reports connecting actor Rakul Preet Singh with the Rhea Chakraborty drug case. SSR Case: Delhi High Court Tells Centre to Respond to Rakul Preet’s Plea Against Media Reports Linking Her to Rhea Chakraborty’s Drug Probe.
Justice Prathiba M Singh perused two status reports filed by the NBSA and the ministry on the action already taken. While the ministry, represented through central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, said that necessary action has been initiated against the channels and further advisory has been sent to all private channels to adhere to the guidelines under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, the NBSA informed the court that it has examined the actor's complaint and have issued various orders against member channels.
The high court directed that if the petitioner has details of the channel links, it may be provided to the ministry for appropriate action and regarding the content that has already been taken down by the channels, the ministry was to obtain it directly from the channels.
It asked the ministry to file within six weeks another status report after necessary action is taken against erring channels under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act and listed the matter for further hearing on May 20.
Advocate Aman Hingorani, representing the actor, submitted that the ministry ought to take action against non-NBSA members under the Act and added that some of the links to the objectionable material, which was broadcast, have been taken down by certain media channels.
He said the petitioner would not be able to access such material to provide information to the ministry and it shall directly take the information from the channels. The actor in an application filed earlier has sought an interim order against the media till the time the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Mumbai, completes the investigation in the drug case and files an appropriate report before the competent court.
The high court on September 17 last year, had said that the leaks to the media need to be investigated as "someone's reputation is totally destroyed by this".
The NBSA in its orders of December 9, 2020, against various TV channels, has observed that several news reports were based on information received from NCB which has not issued any statement disputing the same. Bollywood Drug Probe: Rakul Preet Singh Moves Delhi HC Seeking Ban On Media for Coverage on Her.
NBSA has censured some TV channels for their use of "misleading" hashtags and taglines in their broadcasts of the case and some others have been asked to issue an apology to the actor. It has also directed the TV channels to immediately remove videos of the offending broadcasts from their websites and YouTube and to "exercise greater care, caution in future while telecasting such news stories and taglines".
The court had earlier expressed the hope that "media houses would show restraint in their reports and would abide by the cable TV regulations, programme code and various guidelines, statutory and self-regulatory while making any reports with regard to the petitioner".
In her main petition, the actor has sought directions to the authorities to stop media reports from connecting her with the Rhea Chakraborty drug case.
She has claimed, in her petition, that Chakraborty had already retracted the statement in which she was allegedly named and yet the media reports were connecting her to the drug case. The NCB probe has stemmed from the investigation into actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death case.
She has contended that based on unsubstantiated allegations defamatory programmes were being run in the media against her which was causing irreparable harm and injury to her. The petition had also alleged that the ministry, PCI and NBA "have failed to discharge their statutory functions of ensuring compliance of their own directives, which has resulted in the flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner".
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