Press is free although subject to certain reasonable restrictions imposed by the Constitution of India, 1950. Before the impact of globalization was felt, the mass media was entirely controlled by the government, which let the media project only what the government wanted the public to see. However, with the onset of globalization and privatization, the situation has undergone a humongous change. Before the invention of communication satellites, communication was mainly in the form of national media, both public and private, in India and abroad. Then came ‘transnational media’ with the progress of communication technologies like Satellite delivery and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), the outcome: local TV, global films and global information systems.
Media law covers an area of law which involves media of all types (TV, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet & new media, etc.), and stretches over various legal fields, including but not limited to corporate, finance, intellectual property, publicity and privacy.
The Indian Constitution does not provide freedom for media separately. But there is an indirect provision for media freedom. It gets derived from Article 19(1) (a). This Article guarantees freedom of speech and expression. The freedom of mass media is derived indirectly from this Article. Article 19 of our Constitution deals with the right to freedom and it enumerates certain rights regarding individual freedom of speech and expression etc. These provisions are important and vital, which lie at the very root of liberty. Article 19 of the Indian constitution lays down – “All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably, and without arms, to form associations or unions, to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside in any part of the territory of India, to acquire hold and dispose of property and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
List of Acts and Rules applicable to the media industry –
1. The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867
2. Registration of Newspapers (Central) Rules, 1956
3. The Press and Registration Appellate Board (Practice and Procedure) 1961
4. The Press Council Act, 1978
5. The Press Council Rules, 1979
6. The Press Council (Procedure for Nomination of Members) Rules, 1978
7. The Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) (Amendment) Regulations, 2006
8. The Press Council (Procedure for Conduct of Meetings and Business) Regulations, 1979
9. The Press Council of India (Grant of Certified Copies) Regulations, 1999
10. The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
11. The Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Rules, 1957
12. The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees Tribunal Rules, 13. The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958
14. The Newspaper (Prices and Pages) Act, 1956
15. The Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act, 1954
16. The Right to Information Act, 2005
17. The Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005
18. The Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, 2005
19. The Central Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007
20. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954
21. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Rules, 1955
22. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950
23. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Rules, 1982
24. State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005
25. State Emblem of India (Regulation of Use) Rules, 2007
26. The Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977
27. The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956
28. The Punjab Special Powers (Press) Act, 1956 (Relevant Provisions)
29. Copyright Act, 1957
30. The Dramatic Performances Act, 1876 (Relevant Provisions)
31. The Cinematograph Act, 1952
32. The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983
33. The Cine-workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981
34. The Cine-Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Rules, 1984
35. The Cine-Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1981
36. The Cine-workers Welfare Cess Rules, 1984
37. The Cine-Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
38. The Cine-Workers Welfare Fund Rules, 1984
39. The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India ) Act, 1990
40. The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007
41. The Sports Broadcast Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Rules, 2007
42. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995
43. The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994
44. The Radio, Television and Video Cassette Recorder Sets (Exemption from
Licensing Requirements) Rules, 1997
45. The Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable services) (Cable
Television – CAS Areas) Regulation, 2006
46. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (Relevant Provisions)
47. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997
48. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Miscellaneous) Rules, 1999
49. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Period for Filing of Application to Authority) Rules, 1999
50. The Telecommunication Interconnection (Port Charges) Regulation, 2001
51. The TRAI (Levy of Fees and Other Charges for Tariff Plans) Regulations, 2002
52. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Form, Verification and the Fee for Filing an Appeal) Rules, 2003
53. The Telecommunication Interconnection (Charges and Revenue Sharing) Regulation, 2001
54. The Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges Regulation, 2003
55. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Salaries, Allowances and Other Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Whole-time Members) Rules, 2000
56. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Procedure for Conducting Inquiry Against a Member) Rules, 1999
57. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Annual Report and Returns) Rules, 1999
58. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Form of Annual Statement of Accounts and Records) Rules, 1999
59. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulations, 2004
60. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Access to Information) Regulations, 2005
61. The Common Charter of Telecom Services, 2005
62. The Regulation on Quality of Service of Basic and Cellular Mobile Telephone Services, 2005
63. Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006
64. The Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Cable Television – CAS Areas) Regulation, 2006
65. The Quality of Service of Broadband Service Regulations, 2006
66. The Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulations, 2007
67. The Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007
68. The International Telecommunication Access to Essential Facilities at Cable Landing Stations Regulations, 2007
69. The Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations, 2007
70. The Direct to Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007
71. Domestic Leased Circuits Regulations, 2007
72. The Register of Interconnect Agreements Regulations, 1999
73. The Indian Post Office Act, 1898 (Relevant Provisions)
74. The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Relevant Provisions)
75. The Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000
Indian Express v. Union of India
Petitioner: Indian Express
Respondent: Union of India
the petitioner for this situation were corporate organizations, workers, and shareholders thereof, and trusts which are part of the publication of newspapers. The import duty in the newspapers was challenged. Under the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, and the duty under Finance Act 1981. Preceding this news, the newspaper enjoyed exemption from customs duty. And also, the newspapers were classified into small, medium, and large which encroaches article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law).
The issue was raised imposition of a duty would adversely affect the expenses and dissemination and, hence the crippling effect on freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution and freedom of trade under Article 19(1)(g).
The Supreme Court of India held that the government of India has the power to imply taxes affecting the publication of newspapers and it also said that classifying the industry into small, medium, and large have rational nexus of fulfilling the objective of taxation and is not arbitrary. For the implication of duty, it was said that the press plays a crucial role in a democratic machinery. The courts have a duty to uphold the freedom of the press and invalidate all laws and administrative actions that bridge that freedom. And it was realized that freedom of the press has three essential elements:
Freedom of access to all sources of information
Freedom of publication
Freedom of circulation
Conclusion: The Supreme Court of India directed the central government to look into its taxation policies by acknowledging that it causes a burden on newspapers. It was argued that increased cost on newspapers would drop a circulation affecting the freedom of speech and expression. The court reasoned that the government has the power to put taxes but within fair limits so that freedom of expression does not get encroached.
Union of India v. Assn. for Democratic Reforms
Petitioner: Union of India
Respondent: Assn. for Democratic Reforms
The Association of Democratic Reforms filed a petition with the High Court of Delhi to impel enforcement of certain recommendations related to how to make the electoral process in India more reasonable, transparent, and equitable. It was appealed by the Government of India that these recommendations were produced by the law commission and provided that the election commission needs to disclose information of personal background to the public including criminal history, educational qualifications, personal financial details, and other necessary information for determining candidate’s capacity and capability. The Union of India challenged the decision through an appeal to the Supreme Court of India, arguing that the Election Commission and the High Court did not have such powers and that voters did not have a right to such information.
It was held by Supreme Court of India that:
“One-sided information, disinformation, misinformation, and non-information, all equally create an uninformed citizenry which makes democracy a farce. Freedom of speech and expression includes the right to impart and receive information which includes freedom to hold opinions”.
Sakal Papers Ltd. V. Union of India
Petitioner: Sakal Papers Ltd.
Respondent: Union of India
Sakal newspapers were published by a private company. The company with two shareholders and two readers filed a petition in Supreme Court against the state. It was challenged by the company that constitutional validity of the Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, 1956 which was granted power by the Central Government to regulate the price of newspapers by relating it to their pages and allocation of space for advertising matter.
The petitions argued that Newspapers (Price and Page) Order, 1960, and Newspaper order is infringing the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.
The Supreme Court held that Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, 1956, and the Daily Newspapers (Price and Page) Order, 1960 violated the constitutional right to speech. It was said that the laws made violate the right of speech and expression by restricting the number of pages and prices, it also violates article 19(2) as it does not come under reasonable restrictions. The court struck down the decision on the ground that it would help the small newspapers to grow.
Bennett Coleman and Co. V. Union of India
Petitioner: Bennett Coleman and Co.
Respondent: Union of India
Date of judgment: 30th Oct. 1972
The petitioners were media companies dealing with the publication of newspapers. The company challenged the import duties under Import Control Order 1955 and further, the Newsprint Policy of 1972-73 came with more restrictions which had four features:
1. No new newspapers may be started by establishments owning more than two newspapers if at least one of which is daily;
2. The total number of pages may not exceed ten;
3. The increase in the number of pages may not be more than 20% for newspapers that are under ten pages;
4. No-interchangeability of newsprint may permit between different newspapers of the same establishment or between different editions of the same paper.
The petitioners were restricted to make circulation under newsprint policies in quota limit and it was violative of Article 19(1)(a) the respondent gave a counter comment that companies do not enjoy fundamental rights, as it is available only to natural persons. As per the restrictions placed were fair.
· Whether the petitioners being companies could invoke fundamental rights?
· Whether the restriction on newsprint import under the 1995 order was violative of Art. 19 (1) (a) of the constitution?
· Whether the newsprint Policy fell within clause 5(1) of the Import, Control Order 1955 and was valid?
· Whether clauses 3 and 3A of clause 3 of the 1962 Newsprint Order were violative of Arts. 19(1) (a) and 14 of the Constitution?
The judgment was delivered by J. Ray and it was said that petition was maintainable. Being a company does not restrict them to claim relief for violation of rights of shareholders and editorial staff (who were petitioners) Similarly, like Sakal Papers Ltd. v. Union of India the decision was struck holding it violative of Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 19 (2). The grounds were considered not reasonable.
Mahesh Bhatt v. Union of India
The writ petition filed by Mahesh Bhatt challenged the lawfulness of the provisions of the cigarette and other tobacco products. The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003 defines the advertisement includes any visible representation by way of notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document and also includes any announcement made orally or by means of producing transmitting light, sound, smoke or gas.
It was held that advertisements intend to make information and advice open and scatter data through media and different methods, it was decided that advertisements of tobacco items can’t as such viewed as indecent. Utilization Consumption of tobacco or smoking is unfortunate yet isn’t unethical. The term decency is more expansive. Commercial advertisements are entitled to limited protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution if they are in the public interest. Commercial advertisements of tobacco products are not expressions protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Business ads will incorporate tobacco items. In any case, business promotions are extraordinary and different from the news. The reason and object behind news are to disperse data, ideas, and thoughts. Pre-predominant nature and character of the article, picture, and so forth, will decide if it is a business ad or a news thing/picture. Therefore, the advertisement comes into a different approach than of press.
By Vaibhav verma