Supreme Court has restrained Sudarshan News from telecasting the remaining episodes of the channel’s show that claimed to unveil an alleged conspiracy behind how “Muslims have infiltrated the civil services”. The court pointed out that the programme was “insidious” and was telecast with the intent and purpose of vilifying Muslims.
“You cannot target one community and brand them in a particular manner,” the top court said, restraining Sudarshan TV from airing its show “Bindas Bol” with seven of nine episodes left.
“It appears that the object of the programme is to vilify the Muslim community and make it responsible for an insidious attempt to infiltrate the civil services,” said a three-judge bench, calling the show “rabid”.
Breaking: SC restrains Sudarshan News TV @SudarshanNewsTV from telecasting the remaining episodes of 'Bindas Bol' program until further orders of the court, after prima facie observing that the object of the show was to vilify Muslims. @SureshChavhanke https://t.co/IL58E78RnD
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 15, 2020
“The anchor’s grievance is that a particular group is gaining entry into the civil services,” said Justice DY Chandrachud, referring to the Sudarshan TV show. “How insidious is this? Such insidious charges put a question mark on UPSC exams, cast aspersion on UPSC. Such allegations without factual basis, how can this be allowed? Can such programmes be allowed in a free society,” he questioned.
In the teaser, channel head Suresh Chavhanke had claimed that the show would unveil the ‘conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’. On September 11, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had allowed the show to be telecast. On the same day, the Delhi high court had declined to stay the telecast, after initially having stopped the channel from airing the programme.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Sudarshan TV, told the bench that the channel considered it “an investigative story on national security.”
“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 told Divan.
The power of the electronic media to target a community, damage reputations or tarnish someone’s image is huge, the Supreme Court noted. “Reputations can be damaged; image can be tarnished. How to control this? The state cannot do this,” Justice Chandrachud remarked, saying it would be difficult for any government to regulate private channels.
“When journalists operate, they need to work around right to fair comment. See in criminal investigations, the media often focuses only one part of the investigation,” Justice Chandrachud added. “Now an anchor is targeting one community. To say we are a democracy we need to have certain standards in place.”