Ayodhya admin bans TV channels from holding debates

Last Updated 18 October 2019, 19:59 IST

Ahead of the Supreme Court's verdict on the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Ayodhya district administration has banned TV channels from holding debates on the sensitive issue in pubic places to maintain law and order.

The administration has also restricted television channels from inviting litigants of the Ayodhya case for debates.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday wrapped up the 40-day hearing in the decades-old temple-mosque dispute in Ayodhya -- the second longest proceedings in its history -- and reserved its verdict in the politically sensitive case that is expected in a month's time.

Ayodhya District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said, "Television channels have been banned from holding debates in public places in Ayodhya as this may disturb peace and cause communal unrest. We have implemented prohibitory orders in Ayodhya."

He, however, clarified that no written order banning TV debates has been issued.

"Under Section 144 of CrPC, assembly of four or more persons at a time at a place is banned. However if any television channel wants to hold a debate, it can do so in private premises with prior permission of the magistrate," he said.

"This order of banning TV channels from holding debate in public places will not affect news reporting in any way," the district magistrate added.

An application form has been issued by the district administration for TV channels who are willing to hold public debates in Ayodhya. The third point in the application form states, "Litigants of the dispute will not be called (for the debates)".

Deputy Director, Information, Murli Dhar Singh said, "We did it because during such debates if there is any untoward incident with the litigants, then there will be a huge problem. So we have asked the TV channels not to invite any litigant of Ayodhya case."

"We have also warned TV channels not to comment on any religion or community. If anything wrong happens then the applicant will be held responsible," he said.

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has advised all television channels to take "caution" while reporting on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and avoid "inflammatory debates" which are likely to create tension.

The NBSA, a self regulating body for news channels, also advised channels that no footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any news item relating to the Ayodhya matter.

(Published 18 October 2019, 19:02 IST)

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