The Madras High Court has stated that using digital media to “vent ire” against constitutional functionaries and senior officers of the state and centre government “would not only be a personal attack on their privacy and prestige” but would also harm their reputation and have a ripple effect on their work. It claims that many people on YouTube are spreading “wrong and deceitful” information.
The court made the initial observation that news was only distributed by print media 15 years ago. According to the court, the media was highly aware of their reporting, which led to the citizens being given accurate information.
“But the emergence of the digital media, more especially the social media platforms, and coupled with the rights that have been vested on the citizens by the Constitution, not having been understood properly, the citizens, through the various social media platforms cause havoc to the nation and degrade the credibility and respect which the other countries around the globe have on Mother India,” it added.
On January 29, 2020, the court issued a directive to the state’s director general of police directing him or her to establish separate, dedicated, and special cells in each station house, both at the district and state levels, for the purpose of tracking down “unscrupulous offenders” who “post filthy and derogatory messages/videos in the social media not only against the constitutional functionaries and high officials in the State and Central Government, but also against the common man.”
On October 18, the court got a statement from the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu informing it that tenders had been received and would be opened within a week. It further stated that a report would be filed with the court on the tenders.
The bench said that it had ordered the creation of Special Cells so that complaints could be handled as they came in and “the scurrilous acts” might be stopped in their tracks.
The statement read, “This Court is not calling out any particular incident or channel that critiques the persons and officials in the State and Central Government and the constitutional functionaries.”
The court further stated that while it might “use its judicial jurisdiction to curb the threat” and uphold “social decency and harmony” in society, it was the responsibility of law enforcement to be more watchful and assist those in need rather than placing the burden on the court.