New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the way the mainstream news channels holding debates that often give space for hate speeches, and it asked why the Central government was remaining a mute spectator of these hate speeches.
During the course of the hearing, the Supreme Court bench asked why the Central government was remaining a “mute spectator” on the hate speech issue.
“What’s the problem? Why the government of India is not taking any stand? Why is the government remaining a mute spectator?” the bench asked the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj, senior law officer of the Central government.
It also said and suggested that the Central Government should not take an adversarial stand on this issue but should assist the court.
The Supreme Court pulled up those mainstream TV news channels for holding debates that often give space for hate speech, and observed that hate speech benefits politicians the most and TV news channels give platform for hate speech.
A bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice KM Joseph and also comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy said, thereby, the role of anchor in the TV channel debate is “very important” and “critical” and observed that it’s their duty to ensure that guests invited to the show don’t indulge in hate speech.
“The Role of anchor is very important. These speeches on mainstream media or social media that is unregulated. The role of anchor is critical. The moment you see somebody going into hate speech it is the duty of anchor to immediately see that he doesn’t allow that person,” Justice Joseph observed.
The apex court, made these observations, while hearing a batch of pleas seeking appropriate direction for steps against hate speech incidents.
The bench said that hate speech benefits politicians the most and TV news channels give platform for hate speech.
The Supreme Court stressed on the fact that while freedom of speech is important, hate speech cannot be allowed on television. It highlighted how one TV channel was heavily fined in the United Kingdom for doing this.
Senior lawyer, Sanjay Hegde appearing for one of the petitioners in the case also agreed with the bench and said, “Channels and politicians feed on such speech. Channels get money. They keep ten people in debates.”
“You (Anchors) should communicate what others are saying not what you want to say. Pillars of democracy are supposed to be independent and not take orders from anyone,” the bench observed.
The bench said, “If sanctions are effected this will go… Any anchor will have his own views, but what is wrong is when you have people of different views and you are not allowing them to express those views… in doing that you are bringing hate and your TRP is going up.”
Hegde told the bench that on Tuesday US President Joe Biden said that we cannot give hate oxygen. To this Justice Joseph observed, “Not one bit. We cannot give hate any air.”
Nataraj, representing the Centre, told the bench that 14 States have filed their responses. The apex court today asked Centre to also file a response collating the State government’s inputs, and fixed the matter for further hearing to November 23.