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Shut down unregistered online news portals:HC

15 September 2021


Staff Reporter :
The High Court on Tuesday ordered the government to shut down all unregistered and unauthorised online news portals within a week.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the Press Information Department (PID) have been asked to comply with the order.
The High Court Bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah passed the order after holding hearing on a writ petition filed in this regard.
Supreme Court lawyers Rasida Chowdhury and Zareen Rahman filed the writ petition in June.
Following their writ petition, the High Court Bench on August 16 issued a ruling and on Tuesday (yesterday) asked the authorities to shut down all unregistered and unauthorised online news portals within one week. In the ruling the High Court asked the government to explain as to why it should not be directed to formulate an ethical code of conduct for newspapers.
The High Court also sought explanations from the government as to why there should not be a broadcasting commission for electronic media, and as to why all unregistered online news portals should not be stopped.
Secretary to the ministry of information and technology and chairmen of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Bangladesh Press Council had been made respondents to the rule.
In the petition, they said the body of a 21-year old college student was recovered from her rented flat on April 26 this year for which her family filed a case under Section 360 of the Penal Code, 1860 for instigating or abetting suicide. But some mainstream media especially online news platforms published a photograph of the victim without blurring it.
Some news portals posted numerous reports suggesting that the victim had an immoral character. Due to the reports, media has been flooded with victim-blaming comments, but the BTRC and Bangladesh Press Council have not taken any steps to stop their operations, the petitioners said.
They also stated in the petition that there are provisions under the Press Council Act, 1974 and National Broadcasting Policy, 2014 for formulating an ethical code of conduct and formation of a broadcasting commission for the media, but the provisions were not implemented.
Lawyers Rasida Chowdhury and Zareen Rahman appeared in the hearing in support of their petition, while Deputy Attorney General Nawroz Md Russel Chowdhury represented the State. 

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