HW English
Suresh Chavanke, Digital media, UPSC Jihad
National

“How Rabid Is This Programme…”: SC Stays Telecast Of Sudarshan TV Show

The apex court also observed that revenue model of TV channels and their ownership patterns should be put in public domain on the website.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court stayed the telecast of episodes of Sudarshan TV’s show ‘Bindas Bol’, calling it as a “rabid programme” which has no factual basis and cannot be allowed in a free society. Earlier, on August 28, the top court had refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the programme.

Bench headed by Justice Chandrachud, while hearing a plea raising grievance over the programme, said, “Look at this programme, how rabid is this programme that one community is entering into civil services.”

“See how insinuating is the subject of this programme that Muslims have infiltrated the services and this puts the examinations of UPSC under scanner without any factual basis,” said the bench, also comprising of Justices KM Joseph and Indu Malhotra.

Commenting on the way news channels are conducting debates now a days, the bench observed that “all kind of defamatory things are being said”.

“Such insidious charges also put a question mark on the UPSC exams. Aspersions have been cast on UPSC. Such allegations without any factual basis, how can this be allowed” Can such programs be allowed in a free society,” the bench said on the show reportedly based on how people from Muslim community are infiltrating into civil services. The channel had claimed a larger conspiracy behind it, which it would expose in it’s show.

Earlier, the top court had refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the programme. Instead, it had issued notice to the Centre, the Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News on a plea filed by advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan who has raised grievance about the programme.

Prima Facie, the apex court had said, the petition raises significant issues bearing on the protection of constitutional rights.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stressed that freedom of journalist is supreme and it would be “disastrous for any democracy to control the press”.

Appearing for Sudarshan TV, senior advocate Shyam Divan, told the court that the channel considered it as an investigative story on national security.

Responding to this, the bench told Divan: “Your client is doing a disservice to the nation and is not accepting India is a melting point of diverse culture. Your client needs to exercise his freedom with caution.”

The bench also stressed that there should be some kind of self-regulation in media and it would hear the solicitor general on this issue. “We are not saying states will impose any such guidelines as it would be an anathema to Article 19 of freedom of speech and expression,” the bench added.

The apex court also observed that revenue model of TV channels and their ownership patterns should be put in public domain on the website.

“The point is this that the right of the media is on behalf of the citizens only and it’s not an exclusive right of the media,” the bench highlighted.

“Electronic media has become more powerful than print media and we have not been supportive of pre-broadcast ban,” the bench added.

During the virtual hearing in this matter, the bench also referred to “criminal investigation” being carried out by some media houses. “When journalists operate, they need to work around right to fair comment. See criminal investigation, media often focuses only one part of the investigation,” the SC bench said.

“We expect some kind of restraint from your client (Sudarshan TV),” the bench told Divan.

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