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Sudarshan TV's 'UPSC Jihad' Violated Programme Code, Issued Show Cause Notice: Centre Tells SC

File photo of the Supreme Court building.

File photo of the Supreme Court building.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Sudarshan TV has to give reply to the Show Cause notice by September 28, failing which an ex parte decision will be taken.

The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it has prima facie found violation of programme code by Sudarshan TV's Bindas Bol' show and has issued a notice to the channel. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that Sudarshan TV has to give reply to the Show Cause notice by September 28, failing which an ex parte decision will be taken.

The four-page notice has sought a written submission from the channel regarding violation of programme code and why action should not be taken against it, Mehta said during the brief hearing. The detailed notice under Cable Television Network Act, 1995 has been issued today itself, showing facts that are, according to the government, prima facie not in accordance with the programme code, he said.

Mehta suggested that hearing of the matter be adjourned till the channel's reply. The bench observed that if the case wasn't heard then the all episodes would have been aired by now.

It adjourned the hearing for October 5 saying the Centre shall file a report regarding the outcome of the decision taken. The bench said the order passed on September 15 injuncting the telecast of remaining episodes of the programme will continue till then.

At the outset, the top court asked intervenors to file written submissions if any. On September 21, the top court had pondered over the nature and extent of its order regulating 'Bindas Bol' programme on alleged infiltration of Muslims in bureaucracy saying it did not want to curtail freedom of speech as the programme has public interest involved on issues of foreign funding and reservation.

The apex court, which has already imposed the pre-telecast ban on episodes of 'UPSC Jehad' on a plea raising grievances against it on grounds including hate speech, was irked over the fact that the channel, in his affidavit, has named one English news Channel for running two shows on Hindu terror earlier. Why have you said about the programmes (of the English news channel)? Who asked about your opinion about the programmes, it had said. Lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke, had said that his affidavit contained reference of the English Channel and their programmes on Hindu terror as he was asked earlier as to why the 'UPSC Jehad' episodes have shown Muslim men in skull caps and wearing greens.

The bench then said: Does this mean that every time, the judges asked questions you will shoot your mouth with your views? If that is the case then judges will stop asking questions. You are not supposed to file affidavits on all the questions which judges ask. Judges ask questions to elicit a better response. On being told by the petitioners that the episodes have violated the programme code under cable TV rules, the top court pondered over the extent of control and curb which can be imposed by it through its orders. This programme ('Bindas Bol') has public interest involved on (issues of) foreign funding or on reservation. If we are to issue injunction (stay) then what kind of injunction will be like, whether it should be a blanket injunction. There is also public interest involved with it, the bench had observed.

The top court had observed that constitutional values, human dignity are needed to be protected but the court cannot become the enforcers of programme code. The channel had urged the apex court to lift the stay on the telecast of the remaining six episodes of the controversial programme, saying the channel would abide by laws.

Earlier, the top court had questioned Sudarshan TV over its programme asking whether media can be allowed to target whole set of communities. It had asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the National Broadcasters Association to give suggestions for strengthening the self-regulating mechanism of NBA for electronic media.


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