India: Media Law: The Dire Needs Of The Day

Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression has emerged as a sine qua non in a democracy. The Indian Constitution guarantees this right under Article 19(1) (a) to it's citizens. Free exchange of ideas and debate are essentially required for the good governance of a country. This is where media steps in. Media has a special role to play as the guardian of democracy, as it functions as an extra parliamentary opposition to strengthen the roots of the democracy. Connecting us with the scenarios in the world and creating a vocal public opinion for realizing the goal of social and economic justice, it has become an important part of our lives.

However, with all these developments media and its powers have also been reasons of concern on various platforms. There are issues relating to media bias, personal propaganda, sensational and objective reporting of events and increased capitalist tendency of media. Such issues concerning quality of media are of great consequences to a country like India where media has a greater role to play rather than just providing information and entertainment. Consequently, the Law Commission of India has variably discussed the issues related to the media laws and also have given recommendations on the same in its consultation paper. (May, 2014).


The democratic India has witnessed the emergence of media as the fourth important body after legislature, executive and judiciary. However, it has been constantly criticized for its tendency towards commercialism and inclination merely towards entertainment i.e. making money out of news. A recent trend that has been observed in media is the buying of news and for being in highlights by political parties which is referred to as 'paid news' by the Press Council of India. Today, as a reason of ongoing criticisms and constant competition, the political parties are more interested in manufacturing and creating news for their own good. Many suggestions have been put forth in the paper to save it from the clutches of paid news like self regulation, implementing voluntary code of conduct, promoting ethical norms and above all placing objectivity, transparency and truthfulness as the vision, mission and value of the media will put a strong resistance to the enticement for paid news culture.


The right to free speech can and should be curtailed if it has any malafide intention. This principle applies to the pre election opinion polls too. The media's job is to report on, and give its opinion on the communication. But when the media starts telling the voter who's going to win by how many seats, it starts interfering in the communication between candidates and voters. An opinion poll implies that media has already taken the opinion of the people as to which party is going to win and which is to loose and the same is reported back to the people even before they actually vote for the parties. In recent years, parties and candidates are willing to pay for advertisements suggesting that they are likely to win. This is why we have "paid news" at election time, declared as a malpractice by the Election Commission. Many questions remain about the objectiveness of the opinion polls and the methods of conducting them. Even if election forecasting through opinion polls is not to be banned, it definitely needs to be regulated.


Section 66A, Information Technology Act, 2000 refers to the sending of offensive or false messages through a computer device. This provision even though has been inspired by the noble objectives of protecting reputations and preventing misuse of networks, has not been able to achieve its goals and goes far beyond the reasonable restrictions on free speech as mandated under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India. Section 66A needs to be amended to make the cyber law in sync with the Constitution and also with the existing realities of social media.


The media acts both as a watchdog and a platform to bring people voice to the notice of society and legislatures. Freedom of press is the freedom of people.

Some famous criminal cases would have gone unpunished but for the intervention of media the cases like Priyadarshini Mattoo case, Jessica Lal case, Nitish Katara murder case the culprits are behind the bars. However this righteousness does not embrace the freedom to commit contempt of court. There have been numerous instances in which media has been accused of conducting the trial of the accused and passing the 'verdict' even before the court passes its judgment. Media, at times completely overlooks the vital gap between an accused and a convict keeping at stake the golden principles of "presumption of innocence until proven guilty" and "guilt beyond reasonable doubts". The most suitable way to regulate the media will be to exercise the contempt jurisdiction of the court to punish those who violate the basic code of conduct. While civil contempt refers to the willful disobedience to any judgment, or order of a court, criminal contempt is an offence under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months. It is defined as the publication of any matter which lowers the authority of any court, or scandalises or tends to scandalise, prejudices or tends to prejudice, or obstructs or tends to obstruct any judicial proceedings, or the administration of justice. It is evident that this definition is extremely wide, particularly as it is unclear what the words "tends to" encompasses.


Freedom of press has been held to be a part of the fundamental right of "freedom of speech and expression" guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. It has been held that "freedom of press" is necessary for exercise of fundamental freedom of citizens of speech and expression. Though it empowers the press to disclose the information vital to public interest, it often results in the intrusion of privacy. Privacy means being aloof on some issues of personal life. But the question is, can sting operations take away this privacy and make it public? The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) justified sting operations as "illegitimate journalistic tool" and it has been found out that these sting operations are done to interest the public rather than public interest. Recommendations have been made to enact laws to prevent media from interfering with the individual privacy.


The fundamental objective of media is to serve the people with news, events, incidents and opinions in the exact manner in which they are actually happening. The freedom of press is a blessing for the people. However this blessing can go terribly wrong when manipulation and mishandling of news comes into picture. The fact that media has played a vital role in keeping a cheque on the government functionaries cannot be overlooked, but still there are a lot of loopholes and lacunas that need to be filled. Towards this end, the media's conduct is expected to be governed with certain amount of professionalism and ethics in the mind. Media should restrain itself from publication of fake, manipulated or tampered news. Further, it shall not interfere with the privacy of any individual unless there is dire need of the same in public interest. It is not only ethical but also the duty of media of any country to preserve and protect its cultural heritage and values. Media organizations should be more accountable and inclined towards the interests of the general public.


* Komal Chauhan is an Intern, 2nd year Law Student, Faculty of Law, DU.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions