Madras High Court pats print media for responsible reporting, flays social media – The Hindu

Chennai News

The Madras High Court has patted the print media for its track record of having been, by and large, very responsible in reporting news for centuries together. On the other hand, it has come down heavily on social media for providing a platform to those who act irresponsibly and make unsubstantiated allegations against Constitutional functionaries and top government officials thereby causing a dent to the country’s image.

In the latest in a series of orders insisting that the Director General of Police (DGP) to constitute special cells to crack down on social media abusers, Justice M. Dhandapani wrote: “A decade-and-a-half ago, it was only the print media which would take the good and bad information to the general public and many a times, the media was very conscious of their reporting which resulted in the citizens being fed with good information.“

He went on to state that such responsible reporting had “enhanced the image of the country. But the emergence of the digital media, especially the social media platforms coupled with the rights that have been vested on the citizens by the Constitution not having been understood properly, the citizens, through various social media platforms, are causing havoc and degrading the credibility and respect which other countries around the globe have on Mother India.”

The judge said it had come to the notice of the court that many individuals were using YouTube to propagate “wrong and deceitful information which unsettles the mind of the common man.” Stating that any medium of communication must be used only for the betterment of society, the judge said, misusing the platforms to vent ire against Constitutional functionaries or other individuals would amount to a personal attack on their privacy and reputation.

“It would also have a cascading effect on the work discharged by them. The opinion among the public about the said officials would be blown to smithereens which would not be in the interest of the nation. However, day-in and day-out, this court comes across very many videos which malign not only the constitutional functionaries and high officials in the State and Central Government but also the common man,” the judge lamented.

On being told by the DGP that the police department had decided to purchase high-end surveillance equipment worth Rs. 22.4 crore, through the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), to be used by special cells to monitor social media abusers, the judge directed ELCOT to procure the equipment at the earliest and report the progress of the tender process to the court by November 2.