The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to immediately withdraw the notices issued to three news channels over coverage of 1993 Mumbai blast case convict Yakub Memon’s death sentence, describing the move as “shocking”.
“It is shocking that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry should have issued notices to ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak for their coverage of the Yakub Memon issue under the cable TV regulations. Those regulations were never meant to be used to stop the free and vigorous discussion of matters of public interest however disagreeable the content might be to the government,” it said in a statement.
Memon’s case before the Supreme Court as well as the President of India and his subsequent execution were matters of widespread public interest with “sharply polarised viewpoints”, the EGI noted.
“The discussion of the issues was obviously in the nature of political speech that should be allowed free expression without curbs. Viewpoints unacceptable to the government ought not to be penalised on the specious plea that they would incite violence or spread hatred,” it added.
Asking the Ministry to withdraw the notices “forthwith”, the EGI said that it was also time for a “re-examination” of the broadcasting regulations that on the face of it look over broad and leave room for misuse in violation of the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 1(a) of the Constitution. The Ministry recently issued separate show-cause notices to ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak, charging them with showing disrespect to the judiciary and the President of India by airing certain contents on the day 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged. These private channels have been asked to explain within 15 days why action should not be taken against them for airing such content.