HC Blasts Newspaper for Dragging Vlogger’s Child into Article, Says Media Should Self-regulate ‘

Noting that it understands the freedom of speech ”perfectly”, the Delhi High Court said on Tuesday media should self-regulate and carry criticism that is just and fair, while voicing displeasure over a newspaper article critical of a vlogger dragging his child into it. A bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul pulled no punches, as it conveyed its unhappiness over the newspaper referring to the child of the social media vlogger, insisting children shouldn’t become a victim of propaganda.

You can say whatever you want to about him. But don’t visit his family, saying that his child in all probability is going to be mentally challenged….The point is we are completely unhappy with any reference to that child, remarked the bench, also comprising Justice Amit Sharma. “We understand freedom of speech perfectly. But it is self-regulation and we are not saying so. A constitution bench of the Supreme Court, when it dealt with how to regulate media, said self-regulation. So, we expect you to regulate yourself and the standards of self-regulation have to be such that pass muster,” the court said.

The court emphasised one should criticise the action and not the person. Please debate it but don’t visit the children. you find his comments distasteful, please go ahead and express yourself but don’t take it any further than that, the bench noted.

Drawing an analogy, Justice Mridul said whenever an order is passed by a court, the criticism has to be of the order and not the judges. We are informed, we don’t know, that a lot is said about us (judges) and it is not limited to us. We don’t appreciate that….You criticise the order. You don’t criticise us. That is just and fair criticism, he said.

The court was hearing an appeal by the newspaper challenging an order of the single judge directing it to take down the allegedly objectionable article. The lawyer appearing for the newspaper said the vlogger was a public figure whose livelihood was based on posting videos of his and his family on internet, and the article mentions the criticism that he has received from several others for his conduct.

The court noted that the article called the vlogger a ”misogynist” and a ”child abuser”, and asked the appellant to approach the single judge with all the record. We were a little disturbed that you refer to somebody’s child. The child shouldn’t become a victim of any propaganda. We can’t have that. Say what you will about the man. Criticise his actions, his speech but don’t visit his children with such remarks. It is troubling. That we found very offensive, the court said emphatically. Don’t visit the children. They haven’t done anything. Don’t visit the family or the children, don’t do that. That is something that in an appropriate case will have to be determined, it added.

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