SC: Explore shield against online derogatory remarks

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre, social media platforms and NGOs to consider devising a mechanism to stop circulation of derogatory comments against institutions like Parliament and the SC on social media.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Sajan Poovayya and Sidharth Luthra for various social media platforms, advocate Aparna Bhat appearing for NGO Prajwala and amicus curiae N S Nappinai to discuss the desirability of ridding social media of derogatory comments and unwarranted insinuations against democratic institutions.
The CJI said, “As far as law is concerned, there are two types of comments, one is impersonal while the other is defamatory. There are instances where institutions like Parliament and SC are defamed with derogatory comments. Why should it not be explored how to stop circulation of such comments?”
Sibal said he agreed with the CJIs view and Mehta said the government would consider it while holding talks with all stakeholders.
This discussion happened in a case taken up by the SC suo motu in 2015 after NGO Prajwala wrote a letter to the then CJI drawing the SCs attention to circulation of child porn and sexual assault videos on social media. The SCs monitoring had forced the Centre to set up a cyber crime portal for reporting circulation of sexually explicit material, especially child porn and rape videos.
Bhat said the home ministry had not been holding meeting of stakeholders, including the NGO, to devise guidelines and standard operating procedures to eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imageries, videos and sites from content hosting platforms and other applications. Mehta said the case was not adversarial and there would be no difficulty in calling a meeting of stakeholders.
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