THE Supreme Court on Monday said it wanted to “tighten up” the self-regulatory mechanism of monitoring TV news channels and granted four more weeks to News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) to come up with fresh guidelines. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of submissions that the NBDA was in consultation with its present and former chairpersons, Justice (retd) A K Sikri and R V Raveendran, respectively, for framing fresh guidelines. Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for NBDA, sought four weeks to come up with fresh guidelines. Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Union Government has already formulated a three-tier mechanism, the first of which is self-regulation. Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the News Broadcasters Federation of India (NBFI), said it was the only regulatory body registered with the Centre as per the 2022 rules, unlike NBDA. He said that NBFI be also permitted to file its own self-regulations.
“We want the self-regulatory mechanism to be tightened up,” the CJI said, adding that suggestions and guidelines are welcome. “We cannot sort out your ideological differences (NBDA and NBFI) here. We do not want this plea to get lost in the cacophony of rival organisations. We will see their regulations and then see yours as well,” the CJI said and fixed the plea for hearing after four weeks. Earlier, the top court had found fault with the existing self-regulatory mechanism to monitor TV news channels and sought the Centre’s response, saying it wanted to make it “more effective.” The bench had made clear it did not want to impose any censorship on media. The top court, however, had stressed on the need for having an effective self-regulatory mechanism and said some channels went “berserk” during the coverage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. It had then asked the NBDA to take inputs from its present chairperson Justice Sikri (retd) and Justice Raveendran (retd).