Sony TV offers to edit programme on Haryana scam

Multi Screen Media, that airs Sony TV channel, Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it would edit all reference to bribery in two episodes of a teleserial on the Haryana teachers recruitment scam.

The episodes were scheduled to be aired as part of programme "Crime Patrol Dastak", whose telecast has been sought to be blocked by former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and others.

Chautala and two other petitioners are currently lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi following their conviction and sentencing in the scam involving the recruitment of 3,206 junior basic trained teachers in 2000. Chautala was the chief minister of Haryana from 1999-2005.

Senior counsel Harish Salve told the apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen that there will be no "allusion or innuendos to bribery in the programme".

As Salve sought to persuade the court that no prejudice would be caused by the telecasting of the programme, Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Chautala and two other petitioners, told the court that "there can't be any entertainment at the cost of some one's rights".

In the wake of Salve's offer, the court asked Rohtagi if the reference to bribery were removed then would it take care of his objections.

He said that the "assumption and presumption of innocence would weigh with the accused till the matter is finally decided by the top court".

As Rohtagi sought to restrain Sony TV from telecasting the two episode programme, Salve said that in 2004 the apex court junked a similar plea on the making of a film on  parliament attack.

Rohtagi said the telecasting of the programme by the TV channel would "create a perception in the minds of the viewing public and also the judges that we are guilty. In other words it will be a trial by media".

Chautala and two others have challenged the Delhi High Court's division bench order by which it set aside a single judge's Feb 22 putting curbs on the channel from telecasting the allegedly reconstructed version of the teachers recruitment scam till April 4.

Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and 53 others were convicted on corruption and other charges by a special Delhi court. Chautala and his legislator son Ajay and two officers  were sentenced of 10 years' jail each.

Apart from them, one convict was given five years' jail and the rest 44 were given four years' imprisonment. Among the 55 convicts, 16 were women.

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