Disclosure of Journalistic Sources - IE - 24/01/23

Recently, while rejecting a closure report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a Delhi court stated that there is no statutory exemption in India to journalists from disclosing their sources to investigating agencies.
->Legal Protection for Disclosure of Journalistic Sources:
-In India: In India, there is no specific legislation that protects journalists from being asked to disclose their sources.
Investigative agencies can issue notices to anyone, including journalists, to provide information.
i. United Kingdom: The Contempt of Courts Act 1981 creates a presumption in favour of journalists who want to protect the identity of their sources. However, that right is subject to certain conditions in the “interest of justice”.
ii. United States: Although the First Amendment guarantees free speech in the United States specifically mentions the press, the Supreme Court has held that journalists do not have the right to refuse to testify in a federal grand jury proceeding and disclose sources.
iii. Sweden: The Freedom of the Press Act in Sweden is a broad protection of the rights of journalists and even extends to state and municipal employees who might share information with journalists freely. A journalist who reveals his or her source without consent may be prosecuted at the behest of the source.

->Legal Opinions on this Issue:
-While the Supreme Court broadly recognises the freedom of the press, including the right of journalists to ensure the protection of their sources, various courts have ruled differently on this issue.
-During the investigation of Pegasus spyware, the Supreme Court in 2021 stated that one of the fundamental conditions for the media to exercise its right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 is the protection of ‘journalistic sources.
-The protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for the freedom of the press. Without such protection, sources may be prevented from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest.

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