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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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;
Council Of India Act,1965It is a statutory body to govern and regulate the
functions of mainly print and electronic media.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
- AIR 1950 SC 129
- AIR 1950 SC 124
- AIR 1986 SC 515
- (1994) 2 SCC 434
- AIR 1995 SC 264
- (1996) 6 SCC 466
- Ibid., para 8
Written By: Mr.Shivansh Agrawal
Authentication No: AG024091125283-27-820