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Delhi HC rejects plea on absence of censor board to review the non-film songs

The Delhi High Court has rejected a claim that there is no Regulatory Authority or censor board to review the non-film songs, their lyrics and videos, which are made available to the general public through various media platforms like TV, YouTube, etc.

“This has been taken care of by the Ethics Code and the regime framed thereunder. Rule 3 & 4 of the Ethics Code applies to various intermediaries like YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc. These guidelines regulate the nature of content that should not be hosted by these platforms,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The court further noted that these guidelines, read with the IT Act, also provided for offences in case of violation of the Ethics Code. In addition to crimes under the IT Act, the violators can also be booked under the IPC, it added.

The court rejected a writ petition filed by advocate Neha Kapoor for a direction to the government to constitute a Regulatory Authority/censor board to censor/review the non-film songs, their lyrics and videos which are made available to the general public through various media platforms like Television, YouTube, etc., and make it mandatory for composers of non-film songs to receive certification before such songs are made available in the public domain.

The Union government, for its part, said it has brought out the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The Ethics Code lays down a regimen to be followed by every intermediary. Social Media Intermediary has also been covered under it. Section 9 of the Ethics Code directs publishers of news and current affairs content, and online curated content or publishers of OTT platforms to observe and adhere to the Code.

“It is thus clear that there is a clear regulation/regime that has been laid down by the central government to regulate the information/content which is available to the general public through various media platforms,” the bench pointed out.

As far as TV is concerned, the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, addresses the issue regarding the regulation of content that is being telecast on these platforms, the bench added.

“The contention of the petitioner that there is no regulatory authority is incorrect. Directing for appointment of a regulatory authority would result in legislation by this court which is not permissible. The concept of separation of powers between legislature, judiciary and executive has been laid down various judgments by the apex court. Courts cannot mandate a statute or add provisions to a Statute as it would amount to legislation which is not permissible in the constitutional scheme of this country,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court, by its judgement of April 16, 2021, in case of ‘John Paily v. The State of Kerala’ has held that courts do not possess the power to set up an adjudicatory committee or a tribunal by way of issuing a writ of mandamus.

“The role of judiciary is primarily only to test the legality of a statute and not to amend/modify a statute. Setting up of tribunals, authorities, regulators come purely within the domain of legislature and not in the domain of Courts,” the HC has cited.

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