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Katju suggests panel of SAARC press councils

New Delhi: Stating that freedom of media has to be coupled with responsibilities, Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju today urged the government to set up a team of experts to find out ways and means of checking social media against its misuse for defaming people and groups.

In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, Katju expressed distress "that a new practice has developed in the social media of its misuse for defaming people/groups/religions/communities."

"The recent example is of dissemination of a CD which even the author admitted had been distorted for defaming a reputed senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and Member of Parliament, and the threat to defame a Union Minister," he said in the letter.

Justice Katju rued that the social media kept uploading the CD despite a court injunction against it and despite the author admitting that he had doctored it. Demanding legislation to check social media, he said, "Unless some curbs are placed on the social media, nobody`s reputation will be safe in India."

"I would therefore request you to set up a team of legal and technical experts to find out ways and means of checking this menace, including, if the government thinks fit, initiating suitable legislation for this purpose, for filtering out such offensive material," he said.

Dwelling upon the issue of freedom of media, he wrote, "I have repeatedly said that while there is freedom of the media in our country, no freedom can be absolute, and has to be coupled with responsibilities."

The reputation of a person is a valuable asset, and cannot be permitted to be trampled upon by mischievous people, he said. Terming social media as "irresponsible" in its acts, he said, "The social media often acts irresponsibly, which can irreparably damage a person`s reputation.

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