Press, social media have done exceptional job in helping Govt, needy citizens during COVID-19 pandemic: Punjab & Haryana High Court:
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently praised the press and social media for their outstanding performance in assisting the government and vulnerable people (Amit Ghai v. State of Punjab). The Fourth Pillar, according to the High Court, has "done an extremely commendable job" in a time of crisis. It is widely acknowledged that the press (including print and electronic media) has evolved into the fourth pillar of democracy, capable of influencing citizens' attitudes toward hate crime in society. Even social media was doing an excellent job of reaching out to people in need, and both citizens, recognised and unknown, were providing assistance to one another, according to the Court. Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan made the remarks in an order granting anticipatory bail in a case filed under the Indian Penal Code's Sections 295-A, 298, 153-A, 153-B, 505, 149, 124-A, and 120-B.
Inspector Daljit Singh filed the First Information Report after seeing a viral video on social media in which co-accused Nishant Sharma, President of Shiv Sena Hind, along with petitioner Amit Ghai, Advocate, Youth National President, and Arvind Gautham, President Punjab Wing, and others convened a conference in which some derogatory remarks about Nihang were made. Although the accused had already surrendered, the petitioner's lawyer, Advocate PL Singla, argued that the said video clip was uploaded to social media by Ajit Singh Buland, the Chief Editor of Punjab Kesari TV, and was edited in such a way that it provided a one-sided version.
He went on to say that the exchange between the accused and the journalist was not meant to offend anyone's religious feelings. The petitioner went on to say that if the video had not been posted online, it would have remained a private matter between the representatives of Shiv Sena Hind, who had a constitutional right to freedom of speech under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. It was also argued that if an individual was found giving a hate speech, a press reporter's first obligation was to tell the police before publishing those information on social media. Although the media has played an important role, the High Court noted that a "tiny proportion" of media outlets was responsible for broadcasting sensational news. In this regard, Justice Sangwan cited the Law Commission of India's 267th report on 'Hate Speeches,' which proposed amending the Indian Penal Code to include more stringent provisions.