The Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday allowed a Karnal-based media company to use social media for disseminating information concerning general developments.
However, the court also made it clear for the company that any information or reference to any item relating to the Covid-19 pandemic shall necessarily have to be based on the information available from the official portal of the state or central government.
Samachar Express Broadcasting News Private Limited has challenged an order passed by the authorities in Karnal regarding circulation of news via social media. Such orders banning the non-registered social media-based news platforms on the grounds that they may disturb the peace during the coronavirus pandemic have been passed by at least six DCs in Haryana. The challenge in this case was limited to order passed by Karnal administration.
Senior Advocate Akshay Bhan argued before the court that the order passed by the authorities in Karnal imposes a blanket ban on the use of social media for circulation of news, ostensibly to prevent circulation of incorrect or undesirable news regarding ongoing pandemic. However, Bhan added, the same is violative of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The order fails the test of reasonableness as an absolute bar has been imposed on any kind of news, even if not related to the Covid-19 directly or indirectly, he argued.
The court has issued a notice to the state and Centre for August 14. The order providing interim relief, however, is limited to the petitioner company and is not a general order extending to everyone.
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