Katju for filtering offensive material on social network sites

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Justice Markandey Katju
New Delhi, Dec 12: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today (Dec 12) got support from the Press Council whose chief Justice Markandey Katju said that he favoured filtering of "offensive material" on social networking sites (SNS) as it could promote religious hatred.

"The pictures and other contents show religious figures of certain communities in a highly offensive and even pornographic manner. Such material is bound to create religious hatred and lead to most undesirable consequences," Katju said in a statement.

Katju's comments come in the wake of the controversy triggered by Sibal's comments about objectionable material on the Internet.

The Press Council chief said that following the controversy he had carefully examined the contents, pictorial and the rest on the Internet and had come across highly offensive material.

"The pictures I have seen not only hurt the religious sentiments of members of certain religious communities, but are also outrageous, inflammatory and egregious, and are bound to disturb peace and result in serious law and order problems," he said.

Katju said that as per section 153A of the IPC, it is a criminal offence to promote, or attempt to promote disharmony, feelings of enmity or hatred or ill-will between different religious communities or groups, or do an act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups or communities, and which is likely to disturb the public tranquillity.

"I have carefully perused the material in question and am of the opinion that there can be no manner of doubt that they attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code," the former Supreme Court judge said.

"Hence I am of the view that such offensive material should be removed or filtered out from the social network sites on the Internet immediately," Katju said.

"Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which provides for freedom of the media, is subject to Article 19 (2) which states that restrictions can be placed on this freedom in the interest of public order, decency and morality," Katju said.

He said that freedom must always be enjoyed within reasonable restrictions.

"I strongly support freedom of the media, no freedom is absolute, and all freedoms are subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest," he said.

Observing that India is a country of great diversity, Katju said the only way our country can be held together is by giving equal respect to all communities.

"The media and all persons should take care that the religious and other sentiments of any community should not be hurt," Katju said.

PTI

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