HC upholds Centre's warning against Star Plus' "vulgar" show

 "The warning administered to Star Plus Channel by the I&B Ministry by the impugned order was justified as a valid exercise of statutory power by the regulatory authority," said Justice S Muralidhar. Justice Murlidhar's order upheld the Centre's July 22 notice seeking an explanation from the TV channel for showing the episodes and its subsequent warning in November 2009 against showing similar shows in future.

The court gave its order dismissing Star India Private Ltd (SIPL) plea against the I&B Ministry’s July 2009 notice and the November 2009 warning to adhere to the programme code. Accepting the ministry’s contention that the episodes were adult in nature and should not have been telecast in the prime time slot, the court said the telecast of the two episodes on July 17, 2009 and July 21, 2009 violated Cable Television Networks Rules. The ministry had issued a show-cause notice to SIPL on November 27, 2009, alleging the episodes were "vulgar, indecent and against good taste and decency" and had sought its explanation for doing so.

The ministry had later also warned the channel against not adhering to the programme code of the Telecast Act.The channel claimed the serial 'Sach Ka Saamna' has been adapted from a popular international show 'The Moment of Truth' and was "an attempt to help the willing contestants to shed their masks and inhibitions and bring forth their integrity and strength of character." They claimed the programme sought to reward honesty and truthfulness and provide a public platform from where the contestants may openly reflect on those aspects of their lives which they are not particularly proud of so that they may start life afresh with a clean conscience.

Countering the channel’s argument, the Centre had termed the episodes as "indecent and against Indian culture" and added Members of Parliament had also objected to them on the floor of the House and asked the government to take immediate action against the channel. Following the MPs' protest and other complaints, the warning letter had been issued to SIPL, the Centre had stated in an affidavit. According to the ministry, embarrassing questions were put to the participants, as a result of which their family members could not sit together and watch such programme.

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