Supreme Court Stops These Petitions To Regulate Netflix, Prime & Other OTTs: But Why?

SC stayed proceedings in digital media regulation case

All proceedings in multiple courts of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Allahabad in favor of regulating digital content were paused by the Supreme Court on Mar 23. 

A three-judge bench consisting of Justice Chandrachud, Justice MR Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna have ruled for proceedings to resume after the Holi break. 

The date noted was the second week after Holi (March 29) i.e. between April 5 to April 10.

This ruling came in the light of the Centre’s plea regarding transfer of cases in high courts to the Supreme Court. 

The public interest litigation (PIL) filed initially by advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, appearing for Justice for Rights Foundation, wanted regulation of content on OTT platforms by an autonomous body. 

Complaint and Demand

It objected to the “unregulated and uncertified” (based on age groups) content on digital media available for public consumption. It recommended classification in multiple grades of unrestricted, age 7+ age 13+ and so on. 

It proposed the establishment of a “proper board, institution and association for the monitoring and management of content on different OTT, streaming and digital media platforms.”

General Censorship

Seeking to limit the power of social media and its role in the spread of hate speech and fake news, new guidelines were announced which handle “due diligence, grievance redressal and self-regulation measures needed for news portals, social media and OTT platforms, along with several other digital media platforms curating and broadcasting content.”

The Centre’s Crusade Against On-Demand Content

An Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) would also be constituted which would oversee complaints of various communities finding some content or the other “offensive and hurtful to sentiments”.

Supreme Court Justice Bhushan was unhappy with the guidelines, finding them insufficient and lacking in power to truly check digital content. 

He was in favor of adding provisions for prosecution or penalty in cases of “pornographic content”.

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