Saturday, July 20, 2024

No gags please | Mint

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court quashed the Centre’s refusal of security clearance to MediaOne, which knocked the Malayalam news channel off air. The apex court pulled up the government for raising a national security alarm out of “thin air” and said that critical views should not be termed anti-establishment. Its observation is a scathing indictment of the government’s citation of national security to justify what effectively served as a gag order. The channel had been critical of the government’s citizenship policy after a controversial 2019 amendment that featured religion as a criterion. The Centre failed to convince the court of the validity of its action. For a democracy to thrive, the media needs to be free, and all government actions must always be open to criticism. Media has an important role in questioning authority so that elected representatives can be held accountable, as envisioned by India’s democratic system. Media also serves as the voice of our citizens. Diverse perspectives on public affairs are also vital so that voters can make up their minds after exposure to a wide variety of arguments. Smother the media, and democracy itself would begin to gasp.

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