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ASSIGNMENT

DRIVE FALL 2013


PROGRAM BAJM SEMESTER 6
BJ0062 MEDIA LAW AND ETHICS

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Q.No 1 Discuss Contempt of Court.


Answer:
The law of contempt is one of the recognized exceptions under Article 19 (2) to the freedom of speech
and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India.
The courts have made a distinction between civil and criminal contempt.
Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process
of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
Criminal contempt means the publication, whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible
representation, or otherwise, of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which(i) Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court, or
(ii) Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding , or
(iii) Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in
any other manner

The definition is extremely wide and there is no explanation as to what tends to scandalize or interfere
with or obstruct the administration of justice.
The law of contempt requires the balancing of two vital but often competing democratic values the right
to free speech and the necessity to safeguard public confidence in the judicial system. The objective of the
contempt jurisdiction is to safeguard the interest of the public, which would be adversely affected if the
authority of the court is denigrated and public confidence in the administration of justice is undermined.
Let us analyse this further. The republican and democratic character of the Constitution of India shows
that all powers ultimately stems from the people.
It is obvious that the people of India are the masters and all authorities in India (including the courts) are
subservient. Surely, the master has the right to criticize the servant if the servant does not act or behave
properly. It would logically seem to follow that in a democratic country, the people have the right to
criticize the judges. Why then, it may be asked, should there be a Contempt of Courts
Act which, to some extent, prevents people from criticizing judges or doing mother things which are
regarded as contempt of court? This is a question which calls for a close examination.
Doubtless, the people have created the Constitution. However, the courts have been created by the
Constitution. This implies that people were wise enough to realize that there has to be forum (or fora) for
the resolution of disputes between the people; a forum where peaceful redressal of grievances could be
made possible. In the absence of such a forum, resolution of disputes and grievances may be done
violently. Therefore, the judiciary acts as a safety valve. This perspective makes one realize that in a
democracy, the contempt of court is meant to enable the court to function. Justice Markandey Katju, feels
that it is the duty of the court to invoke contempt so that the interest of the public is protected. It is not for
the court to protect its own dignity or safeguard itself from insult or injury.
However, in the past couple of years, the debate on the extent to which the law of contempt is valid has
intensified. If it is possible to freely criticize the legislature and the executive, if they can be brought into
conflict without fearing punishment, why cannot the judiciary be criticized too? There have been too
many instances of judges who have failed the test of honesty and integrity; the faith of the public has been
shaken many a time. A former Chief Justice of India had admitted that almost 20 per cent of judicial
officers in India had fallen prey to mcorruption. The mechanisms put in place to penalize or remove such
judges of the higher judiciary are inadequate. The only removal mechanism is impeachment, which has
political connotations. The lack of transparency has been complained against and it has been felt that
there should be total freedom to criticize the conduct of a judge without fearing any form of punishment.
However, the dividing line between contempt and criticism is a thin one.
The principal test applied by the courts in India while deciding matters of criminal contempt is the test of
the erosion of public confidence. The difference lies between an attack on a judge, which may be

equivalent to libel, and contempt of court. While the former may merely be wrong done to a judge, the
latter seeks to interfere with the course of justice and is a wrong done to the public.
However, in one of the cases, D.C. Saxena vs. CJI, this distinction became blurred as the Supreme Court
held that libel against a judge can constitute criminal contempt if the imputation is of such gravity that it
erodes public confidence in the system.

2 Discuss Parliamentary Privilege.


Answer:
The Constitution has given special rights to legislators to enable them to effectively perform their
functions, to discuss and debate matters of importance without fear or favour, without hindrance or
obstruction.
According to the Constitution, the powers, privileges and immunities of
Parliament and MPs are to be defined by Parliament. No law has so far been enacted in this respect. In the
absence of any such law, it continues to be governed by British Parliamentary conventions. There have
been several such cases. In 1967, two people were held to be in contempt of Rajya Sabha, for having
thrown leaflets from the visitors gallery. In 1983, one person was held in breach for shouting slogans and
throwing chappals (slippers) from the visitors gallery.
What is the punishment in case of breach of privilege or contempt of the House? The house can ensure
attendance of the offending person. The person can be given a warning and let go or be sent to prison as
the case may be. In the case of throwing leaflets and chappal, the offending individuals were sentenced to
simple imprisonment.
In the 2007 case of breach of privilege against Ambassador Ronen Sen, the Lok Sabha Committee on
privileges held that the phrase headless chicken was not used by Shri Sen in respect of MPs or
politicians. No action was taken against him.
In 2008, an editor of an Urdu weekly referred to the deputy chairman of
Rajya Sabha as a coward attributing motives to a decision taken by him. The privileges committee held
the editor guilty of breach of privilege. The committee instead of recommending punishment stated that,
it would be better if the House saves its own dignity by not giving undue importance to such
irresponsible articles published with the sole intention of gaining cheap publicity.
Commonly recognized privileges include the following:
The privilege of the freedom of speech and immunity from proceedings
The right of control publication of legislative proceedings

The right of each House to be the sole judge of the lawfulness of its own proceedings
The right of the House to punish members for their conduct in
Parliament
Protection of witnesses, petitioners and their counsel who appear before the House or any committee
The right to exclude strangers from the House
The right to decline permission for taking evidence in courts of law of proceedings in Parliament
Although part of the ordinary law of the land, Parliamentary privilege is in a sense an exemption from the
ordinary law. An extension of privilege is the power of the Parliament and state legislatures to punish for
breach of privilege or for contempt of the House. On some occasions, the use of this power has brought
the legislature into confrontation with the media. A recent example of the use of this power was the arrest
by the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu of publishers and journalists of The Hindu for an alleged
breach of privilege.
The paper had published a scathing criticism of her government.

3 How are women and children portrayed by the media? Discuss.


Answer:
The media has played a two-pronged role when it comes to women. On the one hand, the media does not
address serious issues of exploitation and unequal treatment of women in different spheres but is keen to
report sex-related incidents. On the other hand, both cinema and television soaps typically stereotype
women, trapped in the tradition of male chauvinism. Most of the times, a woman is portrayed as a
glamorous doll whose physical beauty is her only asset. The sacrificing role of women in every serial is
highlighted, as it poses no threat to the patriarchal structure. Women are all the time compromising and
negotiating. The soap operas affect women more simply because the women are watching more serials
then men. Sex stereotyping is also very much evident in television portrayal of men and women in their
appointed roles. Invariably, masculine personality attributes are emphasized and women in the world of
television are presented in role of domestic help, a wife, a mother etc. and they are portrayed as
submissive and engrossed in common family affection and duties, as against this, men are depicted as
employed, competitive. Women shown in similar competing roles with men are far less in number and are
considered to be oddities and deviations from norm, trait wise though there is a stereotype portrayal of
women being congenitally much more than men. Even when women are presented as power holders, the
patriarchal context is unmistakably present. In fact, the attributes of power and aggressiveness is
portrayed as something unnatural to a women and a challenge to the male ego.

These negative stereotypes seem to be a submission to audience demands. The titles of most soaps either
consist of adjectives referring to girls and women such as Baa, Bahu Aur Beti, Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi
Bahu Thi, Teen
Bahuraniyan, Bhabhi or by their proper names that have no surnames such as
Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Saloni ki Shaadi, Kumkum, Kkusum, Kajol, etc. It would be interesting to analyse
why this is so. Why are almost all women in soaps and serials presented and portrayed in exaggerated
images of costume and makeup?
One of the interesting issues is that most of these serials so not seem to project marriage as a
monogamous institution. Why do they deviate from the norm? Given the fact that several software
producers of television serials today are successful and significant women such as Ekta Kapoor and
Smriti Irani, has this helped change the televised image of women for the better?
On the other hand, the positive sides of womens progress and their contribution for national development
are not been adequately discussed in the media. The emphasis on stories about women, about their
struggle for recognition is only the surface trimming. The actual message to audience still is that society
opposes the liberation of women. Thus, the educated woman is portrayed as selfish and insensitive or the
financially independent woman is shown as domineering, hard, ruthless and the cause of all the suffering
around her. The portrayal of a woman as a sex object in advertisements is quite damaging to the
reputation of women. Women are also depicted as a mother, wife, sister and being bereft of an
independent opinion.
Usually, news materials related to womens problems never make front page news unless it is a gruesome
murder or a case of rape. It has been observed that newspapers do not address relevant topics for women
empowerment, even in sections specifically meant for women. The articles in these sections are usually
concerned with beauty tips, recipes, fashion syndrome, etc.
The Aarushi murder case is another prime example of irresponsible and sensational reporting by the
media. Her murder had been a major source of increased TRPs for news channels. Electronic and print
media are ethically and legally bound to avoid such sensationalisation of news relating to victims of
crimes especially children. The Press Council of India had already drawn guidelines on the subject and
appeals to media to follow them meticulously while reporting atrocities on women/child.
Children are the most vulnerable section of the audience who do not yet know what to believe and what
not to believe. Children are easier to influence and are increasingly manipulating the purse strings of the
house to get the things they want. It is for this reason that advertisers have queued up to make
advertisements that would appeal to the children.
There are various aspects of the issue, the most crucial being the impact of television on children. Studies
have shown that they are among the heaviest users of television. Young children spend between 3 and 4

hours watching television each day. This raises some alarming questions. What purpose does television
serve? What consequence has the use of television? Can television influence the social, moral, ethical,
racial, intellectual and personality development? Volumes have been written on the effects of television
viewing.
Researchers throughout the world have spent years to observe the long term consequences of television
viewing. Television is said to have several functions for children entertainment, living fantasy and
escapism, non-social, informative, social utility and the like.
It is for this reason that the exposure of children to programming on Indian television has raised its share
of concerns. TV channels not only project gender roles in a certain way, they also show material which
may be obscene, shocking, violent, which may have a long term impact on children. If television is
considered to shape the social reality of children, then these are valid concerns.

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