Won't gag media: SC on plea against reporting after Nizamuddin Markaz incident

Last Updated : 13 April 2020, 11:51 IST

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"We can't gag the media," said the Supreme Court on Monday on a plea to stop "fake" news being disseminated by some TV channels after Nizamuddin Markaz incident related to Tablighi Jamat.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde told advocate Ejaz Maqbool, appearing for 'Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind', to make the Press Council of India as a party to its petition.

The court agreed to consider the matter after two weeks.

"We want to make solid long term measures about the news item. Once we take cognisance, people will understand. We won't pass any interim order," the bench said.

During the brief hearing, Maqbool contended because of the media reports, people were being attacked. He said names of coronavirus patients were being revealed.

"If it is a question of defamation and killing, then your remedy is somewhere else. But if it is a question of reporting, then PCI has to be made a party," the bench said.

In its PIL, the organisation of Muslim scholars has questioned the use of terms like 'Corona Jihad' 'Corona Terrorism' 'Corona Bombs' and 'Islamic Insurrection' to demonise the entire Muslim community.

Over thousands of members, including foreigners, participated in Tablighi Jamat in Nizamuddin in Delhi in March. Hundreds of them were subsequently found to be infected with the coronavirus.

After the incident, several news reports were shown with "communal headlines and bigoted statements" by presenting the information in a "twisted and incendiary manner". The petitioner alleged that certain sections of media have exacerbated tension in society by showing "virulent and vitriolic statements" inciting hatred against the entire Muslim community.

It also contended social media was also replete with similar misinformation and fake news aimed at giving the incident a communal tone and proliferating conspiracy theories about Tablighi Jamat deliberately spreading Coronavirus across the country.

The petitioner asked the court to issue directions to the Centre to identify and take strict action against the section of media for communalising Nizamuddin Markaz issue.

Published 13 April 2020, 11:51 IST

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