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SC says need to regulate electronic media; Centre bats for journalistic freedom

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NEW DELHI: There is a need to regulate the electronic media as most of the channels are running for TRPs, leading to “more sensationalism”, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday even as the Centre batted for journalistic freedom saying it would be “disastrous” for any democracy to control the press.

The apex court, making clear it is not suggesting “censorship on media”, said there should be some kind of self-regulation in the media.

“Regulating internet is very difficult but we need to regulate the electronic media now,” a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said.

The top court said this while hearing a plea which has raised grievance over

Sudarshan TV

‘s ‘

Bindas Bol

‘ programme whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’.

While the apex court said that some kind of self-regulation in media was needed, solicitor general Tushar Mehta argued that “freedom of journalist is supreme”.

“It would be disastrous for any democracy to control press,” Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph.

The bench restrained Sudarshan TV from telecasting two episodes of ‘Bindas Bol’ programme, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, saying it prime facie appears to “vilify” the Muslim community.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, the apex court said that most of the channels are running for TRPs.

Mehta said sometimes certain channels are being used for providing the medium to accused to point his or her views.

Mehta also said that it needs to be seen if a potential accused could be given a platform to air his or her defense.

“The problem with electronic media is all about TRPs, thus leading to more and more sensationalism. So many things masquerade as a form of right,” the bench observed.

“We are not saying states will impose any such guidelines as it would be an anathema to Article 19 of freedom of speech and expression,” the bench said.

The apex court said the electronic media has “become more powerful than print media and we have not been supportive of pre-broadcast ban”.

“I am not necessarily saying that electronic media should be regulated by the state but there must be some kind of self-regulation,” Justice Chandrachud said, adding, “We are talking about the electronic media and not about the social media at the moment”.

Mehta said that there should be some kind of self-regulation but the freedom of journalist has to be maintained.

“No freedom is absolute let me make myself clear on this,” Justice Joseph told the solicitor general.

Mehta told the bench that few years ago, some channels were saying “Hindu terror, Hindu terror”.

“We are talking about the electronic media as today people may not read newspapers but may watch electric media,” the bench said.

“Reading newspapers may not have entertainment value but the electronic media has got some entertainment value,” it added.

The bench then referred to the criminal investigation being carried out by some media houses.

“When journalists operate, they need to work around right to fair comment. See criminal investigation, media often focuses only one part of the investigation,” it said.

“What are you doing?,” the bench asked the counsel appearing for the News Broadcasters Association. “We need to ask you if you exist apart from the letter head. What do you do when a parallel criminal investigation goes on in media and reputation is tarnished?”

The bench observed that the law does not have to “regulate everything to regulate something”.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

India sets target of record grain output, focus on oilseeds to reduce import bills

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NEW DELHI: Banking on huge acreage of Kharif (summer) crops amidst good monsoon and adequate water storage for Rabi (winter) season, the Centre on Monday revised India’s food-grains production target for 2020-21 to an all-time record of 301 million tonnes (MT) – 4 MT more than the output of 2019-20 – and decided to put focus on pulses and oilseeds.

Accordingly, it raised the production target of the main oilseed, mustard, from 9.2 MT to 12.5 MT, syncing it with ongoing efforts to reduce the country’s import bills, and gave a hike of 5.1% to the minimum support price (MSP) for procuring mustard in the next marketing season compared to 2019-20 season.

Only lentils (popular pulses) attracted a bigger hike than mustard among the six crops whose MSPs were approved by the Union cabinet on Monday. Target of production of all pulses together, including lentil, gram and others, was set at 25.6 MT for 2020-21 crop year. Similarly, the target for all oilseeds has been set at 37 MT.

The new target for the country’s food-grains production was shared during a day-long deliberation at a conference on preparation for the upcoming sowing season of Rabi crops which will begin in certain parts of the country after mid-October.

“Great emphasis is being laid on production of oilseeds and oil palm plantation indigenously to reduce import of edible oils. Besides, the government has taken multiple steps to reach this new record target of food-grains production,” said Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

He told TOI that the new farm legislation will ensure that the farmers get a better price of their produce. “The Bills, passed by the Parliament, will give farmers freedom to sell their produce at different places. The provisions in the legislation on ‘contract farming’ will attract large private investment, leading to rapid development in the agriculture sector and overall rural economy,” said Tomar.

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INDIA

India slams Pakistan for raising J&K issue at UN, says it hails terrorists as ‘martyrs’

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NEW YORK: India on Monday hit back at Pakistan for raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir during the high-level meeting to commemorate 75 years of United Nations (UN), saying Islamabad is globally recognised as the epicentre of terrorism which harbours and trains terrorists, hails them as martyrs and consistently persecutes its ethnic and religious minorities.

Exercising India’s Right of Reply after Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi raked up the Kashmir issue in his address to UN, first secretary India in UN, Vidisha Maitra, deemed Qureshi’s speech as the “never-ending fabricated narrative” about the internal affairs of India.

The virtual edition of a special General Assembly session to mark 75 years of the institution commenced on Monday (local time).

“I take the floor in the exercise of the right of reply to the statement made by the representative of Pakistan. Our delegation had hoped that during this solemn commemoration of a shared global milestone, the General Assembly would be spared another repetition of the baseless falsehoods that have now become a trademark of Pakistan’s interventions on such platforms,” said Maitra.

“However, for a nation that is bereft of milestones, one can only expect a stonewalled and stymied approach to reason, diplomacy and dialogue. What we heard today is the never-ending fabricated narrative presented by the Pakistani representative about the internal affairs of India,” she added.

Maitra said that India rejected the “malicious reference” made by Qureshi to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India.

“If there is an item that is unfinished on the agenda of the UN, it is that of tackling the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan is a country which is globally recognised epicentre of terrorism, which by its own admission harbours and trains terrorists and hails them as martyrs, and consistently persecutes its ethnic and religious minorities,” she stated.

“It would do well turn its attention inwards to immediately addressing these pressing concerns, instead of misusing UN platforms to divert attention from them by misusing UN platforms,” Maitra said.

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INDIA

Govt tells why it stopped listing farm suicide cause

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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the national data on causes of suicides in the farming sector had become “untenable” with several states and Union Territories reporting ‘nil’ suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers, and was therefore not published separately.

Reply to a query from Congress MP P L Punia seeking confirmation of and reasons for NCRB having done away with listing causes for farmers’ suicides in its annual report on ‘ Accidents and Suicides in India’, Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said: “As informed by National Crime Records Bureau, many states/ UTs had reported “nil” data on suicides by farmers/ cultivators and agricultural labourers, even while reporting suicides in other professions. Due to this limitation, data on causes of suicide in farming sector was untenable and not published separately”.

As per the NCRB report, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported ‘zero’ suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers in 2019. This was also the case in 2018, with West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Puducherry returning ‘nil’ suicides.

Overall, 10,281 suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers were reported countrywide last year, down from 10,349 in 2018. Of the 10,281 suicides, 5,957 were by farmers or cultivators and 4,324 by labourers. Maharashtra accounted for the highest share (38.2%) in suicides related to the farm sector in 2019, followed by Karnataka (19.4%), Andhra (10%), MP (5.3%) and Telangana/Chhattisgarh (4.9% each).

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