Author : AKASH KRISHNAN
Citation: Writ Petition (civil) 384 of 2005
Bench: Dr. Ar. Lakshmanan, Tarun Chatterjee
This case deals with protection of minors from the press. Sexually exploitative content is one of the hall marks of the press over the years. The effects of the same on minors was unaccounted for. The petition filed requested the court to pass an order that no sexually exploitative contention should be published in the news paper and if the same is done then a big bold warning should be present on the cover page. Alternatively, the petition suggested creation of an expert committee to determine ways for the avoiding the publication or outreach of the same to minors. Whether Freedom of Speech could be coupled with the freedom to share inappropriate content with the children is was an important issue herein.
The petitioner filed a Writ Petition requesting the court to pass an order that no sexually exploitative contention should be published in the news paper as the same is harmful for children. He further contended that right to freedom of press should not be allowed to violate the right to educate and protect children. He was of the opinion that such materials in the papers would harm the mental well being o the child and fill the mind of the child with harmful thoughts.
Article 21 of the constitution provides the right to education and the same shall be exercised without any improper practices in association. Such articles are acting as barrier to the proper education of the children.
He prayed that the news paper agencies should be given detailed guidelines as to what they can publish and what not. Also, they should make sure their content is proper and which content is not suitable for the children or the supervision of the teacher of parent is required. Newspapers carrying such information shall be packed separately and have a declaration on the first page announcing the same as this will allow the parents to decide whether or not to buy the paper or allow their children to read it.
Whether exploitative articles in the news papers should be banner or regulated to secure healthy education of the Minors?
In accordance to Press Council Act, 1978 and Section 292 of the IPC the news paper agencies are already prohibited from printing obscene materials. Further, it held that there was insufficient evidence produced for curtailing the freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution.
Replying to the question of putting a blanket ban on the same, the court replied that in such a scenario, the news paper shall only consist of things which would cater to the children and not adults. Regulations to control are already in place and thus the petition was dismissed.