Pull down defamatory materials from online
"BTRC can instantly stop defamatory materials from spreading online. But it doesn't — as if it enjoys them."
The High Court yesterday blasted the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for its failure to stop the spread of defamatory media reports, videos and pictures from online platforms.
"Do we need to continuously give directions to the BTRC to stop such viral videos? It seems that the BTRC feels pleasant about seeing such character-assassinating materials. Why do such videos go viral?" said the HC bench.
The observation was made by the bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah while hearing a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed on August 25.
The writ petition, which was submitted as public interest litigation, sought an HC directive to get the BTRC to take all necessary steps to remove and stop the further spread of materials assassinating individuals' characters from all platforms.
Such materials assassinate individuals' characters by breaching their right to privacy and exposing their private life in public, the petition said, citing incidents of actor Sahmsunnahar Smriti alias Pori Moni, college Student Mosarat Jahan Muniya, JKG Healthcare Chairman Sabria Arif Chowdhury.
For instance, earlier in August, the Rapid Action Battalion has filed a case with Banani Police Station against Pori Moni under the Narcotics Control Act 2018.
Since then, several media reports have come up humiliating Pori Moni's character and exposing her private life in public.
Where Pori Moni is accused in a narcotics case, the media reports are focusing on her relationships in an attempt to assassinate her character, the petition said.
That law enforcement agencies are also not taking into account the honour of a woman in a sufficient manner while briefing media as prescribed under the constitution.
"This has happened with other women of our society as well, when they were made accused of committing any offence in any case," Ahmed said in the writ petition.
In response, the HC bench said: "The BTRC can instantly stop defamatory materials from spreading online. But it doesn't -- as if it enjoys them. don't do it as if they enjoy such videos. They want that we give directives on the BTRC on any issue. Why should we do so?"
The bench went on to cite the controversial Al Jazeera documentary titled 'All the Prime Minister's Men' to further its point.
The BTRC has the authority to stop such content from spreading on the online platforms, said Miah, the presiding judge of the HC bench.
Subsequently, the HC bench rejected the writ petition as it was not presented properly.
Besides, the petitioner has not served any legal notice to the BTRC to this effect before filing the petition. The HC asked the petitioner to move a fresh writ petition before it after serving a legal notice to the telecom regulator in this regard.
Ahmed told The Daily Star that she had sent a letter to the BTRC requesting it to take steps to remove and stop the further spread of defamatory content.
But the BTRC replied that it will do so only if the HC delivers a directive to this effect, she said, adding that the HC made the observation in response to the BTRC's reply.