SC allows parties to respond to government's caution to Sudarshan TV's programme

Last Updated 19 November 2020, 09:12 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed parties filing a response to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's order, advising "caution" against Sudarshan News for its "UPSC Jihad" show, purportedly depicting Muslims' "infiltration into top bureaucracy" for its daily programme run under the title "Bindas Bol".

The government also claimed it found various utterances and audio-visual content of the show "are not in good taste, offensive and has likelihood of promoting communal attitudes".

Taking up a writ petition filed by Firoz Iqbal Khan for restraint order, a bench presided over by Justice D Y Chandrachud gave two weeks time to the parties to file their reply to the government's decision.

The ministry, in an order passed on November 4, cautioned Sudarshan News that if any violation of the Programme Code is found in future, stricter penal action would be taken.

After taking into account written and oral submissions of the channel, the Ministry, in the order, said that it is "of the opinion that while freedom of speech of expression is a fundamental right, the tone and tenor of the episodes telecast do indicate that the channel has, through various utterances and audio-visual content, breached the Programme Code".

The ministry recommended the TV channel should review the content of the future episodes of the programme "Bindas Bol - UPSC Jihad", and the audio-visual content should be suitably moderated and modified. It has said the manner in which the channel has gone about its exposition, including its comments on the selection process, examination system of civil services, portrays one community and the UPSC in poor light, and the channel could have avoided it.

The ministry said the issue of alleged terror links of Zakat Foundation, which was raised in the shows, and the alleged source of funding was a highly disputed matter of fact, which required a full investigation of evidence to adjudicate the veracity or falsity of the claim made in the programme.

On October 5, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that the Inter-Ministerial Committee, in its recommendation, has given certain additional recommendations in connection with channel's programme "UPSC Jihad".

It also said it is duty-bound to give one more opportunity to the news channel to make a representation in accordance with these recommendations.

On September 23, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court it has prima facie found that the news channel programme with title UPSC Jihad has violated the Programme Code, and as a result, a detailed show-cause notice has been issued to the channel to explain why action should not be taken against it.

The top court had, on September 15, passed on order injuncting the remaining episodes of the TV show, and the stay continues to remain in operation.

Four episodes of the planned 10 episodes have been broadcast so far.

(Published 19 November 2020, 09:12 IST)

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