In India, there is no specific law for journalists. However, Article 19 of the Indian constitution grants freedom of speech to all of its citizens. But, state and authority use various measures to muzzle dissent.
Many times, the government has allegedly cut advertisements in those media outlets which question them. For media channels, advertisements given by political parties are one of the major sources of income.
Hence, directly or indirectly political parties control the media. In June 2019, the Central government cut the advertisement of three newspapers including The Hindu, The Telegraph, Aanand Bazar Patrika and The Times of India.
These papers had published government critical reportage. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, the leader of the opposition Congress party, raised the issue in the parliament. He said that the government was suppressing the dissenting voice of media by cutting the advertisements.
The draconian sedition law is one of the tools the government uses to muzzle the dissenting voice. Many times, the court sets the accused free.
In 2018, a journalist named Keshorechandra Wangkhem was booked under the sedition law, for posting a video on social media, in Manipur. The content of the video was focused on the criticism of the ruling BJP government.
Filing for defamation and demanding a huge compensation is used to intimidate journalists. In 2017, a defamation case demanding Rs 100 crore was filed against ‘The Wire’ for an article published in October 2017.
In its report, The Wire had claimed that revenues of the company, owned by Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah, have increased many times since BJP came to power in the centre.
Many times, corporates take over the majority share of the media house and start meddling with its functioning. In 2014, Reliance took over the news channel CNN-IBN, founded by Raghav Behl, by purchasing the majority shares of the company.
Raghav Behl quit the CNN-IBN and founded a multimedia-based outlet called ‘The Quint’.
Many times, media houses who have been critical of the government face raids and inquiries from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), etc.
In July 2017, the CBI raided the NDTV office and NDTV’s founder Pranoy Roy’s house, for allegedly defrauding the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) bank’s of Rs 48 crores.
Over the years, governments have used all possible ways to silence the voice of the media. As a result, Indian media is facing serious repercussions.
In the media freedom Index ranking 2019, ( a report published by Reporters Without Borders) India stands at the 140th position out of 180 countries.