The BCCC was also a self-regulatory body constituted by the Indian Broadcasters’ Association and entertained complaints from viewers.

The Madras High Court Bench here directed the Centre on Monday to spell out the reasons for not establishing a statutory body to improve the standards of broadcasting companies as was done in the case of newspapers and news agencies through the Press Council Act 1978.

Written reply

Justice N. Kirubakaran ordered Additional Solicitor General P. Wilson to submit a written reply by October 15. The direction was issued during the hearing of a petition seeking the registration of a criminal case for staging an “obscene” performance during the Indian Premier League-V inaugural in Chennai on April 3.

Public interest

Though the Chennai city police submitted that a First Information Report was registered following a complaint lodged by a Madurai lawyer who reportedly watched the performance on television, the judge expanded the scope of the case to deal with the issue of regulating television content in the public interest.

Self-regulatory mechanism

The Additional Solicitor General submitted that the broadcast media was already being controlled by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), a self-regulatory mechanism of the News Broadcasters’ Association, chaired by the former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma.

It was also under the scanner of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) headed by A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.

The BCCC was also a self-regulatory body constituted by the Indian Broadcasters’ Association and entertained complaints from viewers.

Further, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 was amended in 2000 to include District Magistrates (Collectors) and Police Commissioners as ‘authorised officers’ empowered to initiate action when provisions of the legislation were violated, the ASG said. The judge then ordered the Centre to submit, at the next hearing, countrywide statistics relating to complaints entertained by the District Magistrates or Police Commissioners and the action they had taken.

‘Nothing obscene’

Earlier, counsel Krishna Srinivasan, appearing for actor Amitabh Bachchan and Sony Television which telecast the IPL inaugural, wondered how the actor could be included in the case when he had done nothing on stage apart from delivering a speech.

“Even if some dance performances had been staged during the inaugural, what is wrong with that? Even the Olympic Games are inaugurated with dance performances.

Obscenity is a very subjective issue. What is obscene for one need not be so for another,” he said.

“As far as the IPL inaugural is concerned, there was nothing obscene. I can say that it was completely vegetarian. There was not even onion and garlic in it,” he said when the judge intervened to state that obscenity must be determined from a “layman’s point of view.”

Counsel for N. Srinivasan, President, Board of Control for Cricket in India, and Rajeev Shukla, chairman, IPL governing council, said his clients had nothing to do with the inaugural programme as the contract for organising it was given to a private event management company.

The lawyer appearing for actors Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor and others contended that his clients were professional actors who did whatever the choreographers had asked them to do.

“In fact, Salman Khan only danced with male performers,” he said.

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