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Set up body to look into complaints against TV channels: SC


The Supreme Court (SC) on 12 January 2017 directed the Union government to set up a statutory mechanism to decide upon the grievances of people against programmes that are broadcasted on the visual medium.

The ruling was made by a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
The bench also directed that the competent authority, that framed the rules under the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act, should now frame similar rules to formalise the complaint redressal mechanism. 

The rules shall be framed with an aim of providing for limitation for filing complaint before an authority which shall judge the complaint or before the appellate authority and moreover for the final determination on the complaint.

The bench also clarified that a regulatory mechanism would be a complaint redressal system to address grievances of citizens relating to social issues like gender justice, etc. It clearly stated that regulatory mechanism has nothing to do with politics or otherwise. 

Background
This ruling was made on a petition filed by NGO 'Common Cause' which complained that the government had not put in place an independent regulatory body to monitor the programme content across 800 TV channels and 250 radio stations in the country.

The petition was filed by Advocates Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the NGO. The petition stressed that the government should not be given control of the regulatory mechanism as it will violate freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. 

On the other hand, senior advocate Yashank P Adhyaru appeared for the Union Government and justified that the government had put a complaint redressal mechanism in place.

Nonetheless, senior advocates Anoop Bhambani and K V Vishwanath, who appeared for News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasters Federation, said that TV channels were governed by self-regulating regime.

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