The right to comment on content on social media or television channels is protected by the First Amendment. It is in the public’s interest that every broadcaster has the right to criticise and review programmes created by others. According to Justice Asha Menon, the dissemination of a wide range of information would result in a more informed society.
India’s Supreme Court has ruled that the right to privacy cannot be violated in the garb of freedom to comment. The court was passing an order on a lawsuit by a media house against online news portal Newslaundry for allegedly ridiculing and defaming its news broadcast and anchors through its content.
The court on Friday refused to grant any interim relief to the plaintiff media house and dismissed its application for interim injunction. The availability of a multitude of reporting styles, prioritization and presentation of events that occur daily, would always be in public interest, since broadcast is intended to communicate to the public, the court stated. The court also stated that it cannot accept defendants’ ‘self-appointment’ as ‘regulators’ of media content because such a mechanism already existed. It went on to say that the freedom to comment and criticise cannot be limited.
The court noted that the ‘creative genre’ of satire, which is protected by free speech, must be encouraged and protected. The court stated that satire cannot be explained because it loses its flavour. The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that satire is a form of criticism that allows the satirist to criticize in the harshest of terms those in positions of power and authority. It is never intended to disparage or harm reputation and thus is completely devoid of malice, the court said.
The court added that satirists have long been revered in our culture, and that there are several art forms that permitted such criticism of even monarchs during the monarchy’s heyday. ‘The existence of a few videos with use of words listed in the submissions of the plaintiff or articles and posts which have been in circulation for a few years now, do not, in the opinion of this Court, constitute exceptional circumstances,’ the court concluded.