A legal notice was sent to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the BTRC and the Press Council, for formulating a code of conduct, on May 5
The High Court has directed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman and Bangladesh Press council to close all unregistered online news portals in the country within seven days.
The High Court has also asked them to submit a report after implementing the order within seven days of getting the written copy of the order.
The bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah passed the order after hearing a writ petition on Tuesday.
Advocate Jarin Rahman and Adv Rashida Chowdhury stood for the writ petitioner. Deputy Attorney General Nowroz Md Rasel Chowdhury represented the state.
Earlier on May 5, a legal notice was sent to the media asking them to formulate an ethical code of conduct for publishing any news, including sensitive news.
The notice was sent to the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, chairman of BTRC and chairman of Bangladesh Press Council.
As they did not respond to the notice, lawyers Adv Jarin Rahman and Adv Rashida Chowdhury filed a writ petition in the High Court.
According to the writ petition, a case was filed under Section 306 of the Penal Code for incitement to suicide in the recent recovery of the body of a 21-year-old girl in the capital.
The news about this incident has spread to an unacceptable extent in the media of the country, especially in various online news portals.
However, neither the BTRC nor the Press Council has taken any initiative to stop the spread of this news.
“In this situation, it has become urgent for the Bangladesh Press Council to formulate an ethical code of conduct for publishing news. At the same time, BTRC has not taken any action against the launch of unregistered news portals in the country. So the registration of these portals is also important,” reads the petition.
On 16 August, the High Court issued a rule asking why an order should not be passed directing that registration to the online news portals which are under consideration be provided and the other unapproved and unregistered ones be closed.
The rule also sought an explanation as to why an ethical code of conduct will not be formulated for improving the professional standard of journalists, newspapers and other media.
The HC also sought to know why the directives should not be given to take steps in forming a ‘Broadcasting Commission’ as per the National Broadcasting Policy-2014.