Sudarshan News Case: Central Government Issues Notice To TV Channel
The central government has informed the Supreme Court that it has issued a show cause notice to Sudarshan News over one of its programmes that the top court prima facie found to be vilifying the Muslim community.
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed a top court bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice KM Joseph about the development on Sept. 23. The TV channel has been given time till Sept. 28 to respond.
The court will next hear the case on Oct. 5, and ordered the solicitor general to inform it about developments on the notice before the next date of the hearing. The adjournment came after the petitioners challenging the programme’s broadcast didn’t object to it.
The government had, on Sept. 9, sent a letter to the channel to ensure that its show is in line with provisions of the programme code according to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. Episodes of the programme named ‘Bindaas Bol’—which focused on representation of Muslims in civil services—went on air on Sept. 11.
The top court is hearing a petition challenging the telecast of the episodes which has been alleged to have been “amounting to hate speech”. In August it declined a pre-telecast injunction on the episodes in question. However, once the first four episodes went on air, the court stopped further broadcast till it hears the matter.
In its interim injunction order, the court had noted that prima facie it appeared “that the intent, object and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community”.
Sudarshan News, in its defence, has argued that the episodes in question are an investigative exercise raising issues pertaining to national security.
The case has attracted widespread public attention as the court has also expressed its thinking of setting up a five-member committee to suggest standards for electronic media.
The central government has, however, opposed the idea and suggested that it’s digital media which first needs regulation. Electronic media has safeguards such as laws and legal precedents to guide, the government said.
The case has also seen intervention applications from a number of parties, including media organisations and self-regulatory bodies, who are seeking to be made party as the court considers wider issues involving standards for media; hate speech; right of journalists vs dignity of community, among others.