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Media: Fourth Pillar Of Democracy

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy? - Mahatma Gandhi

Introduction And Meaning
Democracy is described as the government by the people, for the people or it is considered to be the rule of the people through their elected representatives. The democracy is balanced by the three pillars of Democracy namely The Executive, The Legislative and The Judiciary but now in this era Democracy is lined towards the fourth pillar that is Media.

The term Media: Fourth Pillar of Democracy is coined by Thomas Caryle.

The merit of the democratic system is that it gives freedom of expression and a space is given to each individual.

Whereas media is used to aware about various social, political and economic activities, media is like a mirror to the world which reflects the true and harsh realities of the world, as media is being trusted by everyone and people always trust actual and honest news. The media has its own opinion but they can publish it in their editorials where public can assessment it.

The main purpose of the media is to provide the accurate news to all types of views in front of people but the truth is not always shown by the media which to people suffers and at last it losses democracy. The media has been receiving number of contracts involving the shares transfer between the media and non media companies and which results to show the disguised news, this can be termed as the paid news syndrome.

India is the biggest market in the world of media and in the fourth pillar of democracy with over 82237 newspapers and more than 900 televisions news channels running all over India in different languages and these numbers are still counting day by day, now-a-days inspite of this social media platforms are also there namely Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and many more, mainly these are inclined towards showing the Entertainment, politics or the corporate advertisement.

The media can be considered as the two-sided weapon as An Accountable Media and An Unaccountable Media where they can lift the nation to the heights by providing a strong support and it can cause destruction to the nation.

For a democratic country to operate its system to its full potential, the participation of the public is imperative, that successively needs circulation of information to the mass or the number of people ,or this is called mass media.

Constitution And Media:

The Public is mostly influenced by the media ,they play an important role in making and unmaking of the government ,thus it would be not wrong while saying that the media plays a very important role in making of the government and it influence the society, the media is controlled by various laws and regulations.

Article 19 of the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights states the right to freedom of speech, that, everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference and  freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers ,either orally, in writing or in a print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The media laws are like the Constitution Of India that means they are rigid and flexible at same time. Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution  is the biggest support to the media as it provides the right to freedom of speech and expression which are followed with Art.19(2) that provide some reasonable restrictions and states as:
Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India ,the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Media is acre stone of democracy, especially of a highly mixed economy. But according to American Constitution, the Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. If we co pare the provisions of the American and Indian Constitution the word freedom of press is not mention expressly in the Art.19(1)(a) expressly but while liberal interpretation of the article we found that not only the freedom of press bur anything which is written , any gesture or representation in the form of indication, electronic media, social media.

Pre And Post Independence Legislations On Media:

There are various laws regarding the functioning of media and to curb the negative effect of the media which were there before the Indian Independence are:
  • The Press Regulation Act,1799:

    This regulation made mandatory for newspapers to print the name and addresses of printers, editors and publishers.

  • The Gagging Act,1857:

    This act gave the powers to the government to prohibit the publication if it has the tendency to criticize the government

  • The Vernacular Press Act,1878:

    This act gave the British power to curb the newspaper which were printed in Indian languages
     
  • The Indian Press Act,1910:

    This act makes it mandatory for the owner of presses will require to submit security deposits, which can be forfeited if they print any objectionable matter and it also gave the powers to the police to seize any objectionable material. After the Indian Independence the media were given the freedom but with reasonable restrictions trough the Constitution and various legislations which are as The Contempt Of Court Act, This was introduced in order to maintain the honour and dignity of the Judges and their Judgments.
     
  • The Young Persons' (Harmful Publication ) Act,1956:

    This act was introduced to prohibit the publication of any such type of literature which will affect the young readers;
     
  • The Cable Television Regulation Act,1955:

    This act provides for mandatory registration of all the cable operators, to transmit the Doordaarshan Channels through the cable;
     
  • Press Council Of India Act,1965

    It is a statutory body to govern and regulate the functions of mainly print and electronic media.

Judicial Pronouncement:

The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the many cases has ruled that freedom of press is a fundamental right covered by the right to freedom of speech and expression. In the case of Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi 1, held that in India under Art.19(1)(a) freedom of speech and expression authoritatively includes the freedom of press print and electronic media and affecting the right of freedom of speech and expression.

And in the case of Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras 2, Supreme Court held that freedom of speech or freedom of press lays the foundation of all the democratic organization without political discussion, no public education is possible which is necessary for proper functioning of popular government. In the case of India Express Newspaper Ltd. v. Union of India 3, Justice Venklatrana of Supreme Court of India sated that the freedom of press is an essential for the proper functioning of the democracy.

In the case of Printers (Mysore) Ltd. v. Assistant Commercial Trade Officer 4, the Supreme Court of India held that though freedom of press is not under Fundamental Right, but it is an implicit in the freedom of speech and expression. In R.Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu5, the Supreme Court held that neither the Government nor the officials had any authority to impose a prior restraint upon publication of a material on the ground that such material was likely to be defamatory of them. In Re: Vijay Kumar6, the Supreme Court recognized the scope of freedom of press as  an essential prerequisite of a democratic form of democratic form of government and regarded it as  the mother of all other liberties in democratic society.7

Media, Crime And Society:

The paid news which is given by any political party or any other big organisation easily deviate the media from the real objective and the media being the mirror to the world or being an eye opener, becomes a puppet in the hand of powers. Hence media being working for the people ,by the people and of the people become for the sponsor, by the sponsor and of the sponsor. Sometimes these issues give birth to the media trials in which the media proof someone guilty before the judgement of the court. Generally, media describe crime which are done in society in their own words irrespective of what the actual situation is.

In the Sheena Bohra Murder Case, the eyes of media have pierced the personal life of the main accused Indirani Mukherjee which was fully accused by the media. Every aspect of her personal life and character was in public lens of examination via media.

In recent times there have been numerous instances in which media has conducted trials of an accused and they had been verdict even before the judgement passed by the government.
Some criminal cases that would have gone unpunished but for the intervention of media are Priyadarshni Mattoo Case and Jesica Lal Case, Nitish Katara Murder Case and many more.

In the case of Arushi Talwar Murder Case the media has verdict that the murder has been done by her parents Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar, he was not guilty but the media proved him guilty.

The Law Commission in its 200th report, Trial by Media: Free Speech versus Fair Trial Under Criminal Procedure (Amendment to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971) , has recommended a law to debar media from reporting anything prejudicial to the rights of the accused from time to arrest to investigation and trial in criminal proceedings.

On November 2006 , the former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal expressed his views on media trials as:
According to law a accused is presumed to be innocent till proven guilty in the court of law, and is entitled to be a fair trial. So, it is legitimate to demand that nobody can be allowed to prejudge or prejudice one's case? Why should judges be swayed by public opinion?

In the 20th century where a famous celebrity Fatty Arbuvckle was proved guilty by the media trial but he was proved not guilty by the Hon'ble Court but due to the media trial his entire career and his reputation was against him due to all the wrong media coverage.

Conclusion:
Freedom of press has always been a cherished right in all democratic countries and the press has rightly been described as the Fourth Pillar Of Democracy. Media can be regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy until and unless the transparency will be there and in this era the media is considered as the daily necessity because the day starts with the media and ends with the same whether its social media or print media or electronic media.

Endnotes:
  1. AIR 1950 SC 129
  2. AIR 1950 SC 124
  3. AIR 1986 SC 515
  4. (1994) 2 SCC 434
  5. AIR 1995 SC 264
  6. (1996) 6 SCC 466
  7. Ibid., para 8

    Written By: Mr.Shivansh Agrawal

    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: AG024091125283-27-820

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