Indian media not muzzled: BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli

Freedom of speech does not mean curtailing other persons freedom by fear

NEW DELHI: Amidst the huge chatter of Indian media being biased and muzzled, BJP national spokesperson and Supreme Court advocate Nalin Kohli has claimed that the country has a robust media otherwise no channel or outlet would be running anti-BJP and anti-Modi stories. He was in a live webcast with Governance Now MD Kailashnath Adhikari during the Visionary Talk series held by the public policy and governance analysis platform. 

Calling media as an important and fourth pillar of democracy the BJP senior leader said that media is free and vibrant in India what you see on social media is demonstrative of the right to freedom of speech. He refuted the charges that the media is muzzled and said that that media has been muzzled only once during emergencies. “Everybody remembers those days.”

“If media was really muzzled then how are people using media to abuse prime minister, Narendra Modi and BJP government so openly and freely. I believe and am convinced that media is independent” said Kohli.  

Kohli blaming the opposition for manufacturing issues and blaming the BJP government for stifling freedom of speech and said that it is a charge leveled against the BJP government without any foundation. “As the opposition, they have a right to manufacture issues. Unfortunately, issues are manufactured without foundation” he said.

While responding to a question on how the government will regularize social media content, Kohli, who has also been convener of BJP’s national media cell said there is the issue of territorial jurisdiction when it comes to social media. He reiterated that that freedom of speech is an extremely valuable fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution but also puts reasonable restrictions on that freedom. He said that nothing can be beyond the constitutional framework and the best way is to self-regulate.

 “There is always a way to express yourself with civility and you cannot threaten anyone. To threaten a lady or her daughters with rape, obscenity, and abusive language is a reflection of an individual’s own self. If we forget to be civil, how can we have civilization” he asked.    

“Freedom of speech does not mean curtailing other persons freedom by fear…because after Article 21 provides for life and liberty. If a person feels intimidated or stalked or threatened because of the exercise of freedom of speech of someone else that too needs to be reviewed.  We are reaching a point where these issues are being discussed. Perhaps they will be debated and over a period of time…some kind of framework may come, maybe self-regulation by the platform whether it would require a court to intervene, laws to come in…that’s a much larger debate’’ said Kohli.

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