SC Justice S Ravindra Bhat: Laws Are Needed To Combat Fake News & Hate Speech On Social Media

SC Justice S Ravindra Bhat: Laws Are Needed To Combat Fake News & Hate Speech On Social Media

The Supreme Court judge, Justice S Ravindra Bhat has stated that laws are needed to combat the spread of fake news and hate speech on social media. The judge recently stated at the Harvard India Conference that there should be legislation to address the issue and, in the absence of legislation, judicial intervention.

Justice Bhat stated that the rapid proliferation of media via the internet has been a “double-edged sword”. While social media has made it easier to spread information, the rise in misinformation and fake news is an indirect threat to free speech and expression.

“In today’s age and day, which is characterised by easy and rapid proliferation of media via the Internet, a retreating State and an overwhelming level of privatisation, the freedom of speech and expression faces far more Insidious and indirect challenges. In the absence of more stringent regulation or a legal framework governing control and ownership of media outlets, private interests are having a chilling effect and beginning to dictate what is reported in a newsroom,” Justice Bhat stated.

“The ease with which information and media can be disseminated has been a double-edged sword. It has led to a democratisation of voicing opinions by providing an accessible platform enabled cross-jurisdictional dissemination debate and protest and unprecedented access to knowledge. However, it has facilitated the spread of fake news, false narratives, and hate speech. It is critical that we protect and promote the former while directing concerted efforts in the form of legislation in the absence of judicial intervention to address the latter,” Justice Bhat added.

According to Justice Bhat, the right of expression to discuss and dissent is at the heart of democratic discourse. “The ability of art to disseminate ideas, whether through theatre, films, songs, cartoons, or even satire, is compelling. If these ideas are not acceptable to the influential and powerful, they attempt to silence them even in democracies “, the judge stated, adding that the Courts have mostly acted to protect this cherished right from oppressive State practises.

Recently, India’s Chief Justice, DY Chandrachud, also expressed concern about the rise of fake news and intolerance on the internet.

“We live in an age where people are short on their patience and short on their tolerance. Humanity has expanded with the global advent of travel and technology, but it has also retreated within itself by refusing to accept anything that we as individuals believe in. That is our generation’s challenge. Some of this may be the result of technological advancements. In the age of fake news, truth has become a victim,” CJI Chandrachud stated last week at the American Bar Association conference.

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About the Author: Isha Das