On social media content, BJP spokesperson says self-regulation is the best way
GN Bureau | November 4, 2020
India has a robust media and if that was not the case news channels and outlets would not be reporting against the government and the ruling parties, BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli has said.
Terming media the fourth pillar of democracy, the BJP leader said that media is free and vibrant and what you see on social media is demonstrative of the right to freedom of speech. He refuted the allegation that media is muzzled and said that media has been muzzled only once during the Emergency. “Everybody remembers those days,” said Kohli, who is also an advocate at the Supreme Court of India.
“If media was really muzzled, then how are people using media to abuse prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government so openly and freely? I believe and am convinced that media is independent,” he said.
He was in a live webcast with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, on Tuesday as part of the Visionary Talks series held by the public policy and governance analysis platform.
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To see the previous episodes of the series, click here: www.governancennow.com/visionary-talks-series
Kohli accused the opposition of manufacturing issues and blaming the government for stifling the freedom of speech, and said that it is a charge leveled against the government without any foundation. “As opposition they have a right to manufacture issues. Unfortunately, issues are manufactured without foundation,” he said.
While responding to a question on how government can regularise social media content, Kohli, who has also been convener of BJP’s national media cell, said there is an issue of territorial jurisdiction when it comes to social media. He reiterated that that freedom of speech is extremely valuable fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution but it also puts reasonable restrictions on that freedom. He said that nothing can be beyond the constitutional framework and the best way is to self-regulate.
“There is always a way to express yourself with civility and you cannot threaten anyone. To threaten a lady or her daughters with rape, obscenity, and abusive language is a reflection of an individual’s own self. If we forget to be civil, how can we have civilization?” he asked.
“Freedom of speech does not mean curtailing other person’s freedom by fear…because Article 21 provides for life and liberty. If a person feels intimidated or stalked or threatened because of exercise of the freedom of speech of someone else that too needs to be reviewed. We are reaching a point where these issues are being discussed... perhaps they will be debated and over a period of time… some kind of framework may come… may be self-regulation by the platforms. Whether it would require court to intervene, laws to come in… that’s a much larger debate,” said Kohli.
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