SC stays broadcast of TV show, says intent is to vilify Muslim community (Ld)

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the broadcast of the subsequent five episodes of “UPSC Jihad” by Sudarshan TV, stating that the intent and purpose of the programme is to vilify the Muslim community.

A top court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph said: “Edifice of a stable democratic society is based on coexistence of communities.”

The bench added, “Consequently, we direct that pending further orders of this court, the fifth respondent shall stand injuncted from making any further telecast in continuation of or similar to the episodes which were telecast on September 11, 12, 13 and 14, either under the same or any other title or caption.”

The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on September 17.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the court has been usually circumspect in granting pre-broadcast injunctions.

The bench observed that prima facie, it appeared that the intent, object and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community.

The top court emphasised that any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with disfavour, adding that India is a melting pot of civilisations, cultures and values.

“An insidious attempt has been made to insinuate that the community is involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services. Several statements in the episodes, which have been drawn to the attention of the court, are not just palpably erroneous, but have been made in wanton disregard of the truth,” noted the bench.

The bench said the programme contained factually incorrect statements with regard to the upper age and the number of attempts Muslim candidates get in UPSC exams.

“The drift, tenor and content of the episodes is to bring the community into public hatred and disrepute,” noted the top court.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the TV channel, argued that there is no change in its position from August 28 when the top court had declined to impose a pre-broadcast order.

Divan insisted that the show was investigative journalism raising valid issues concerning national security. The petitioners, who had moved the top court against the broadcast of the show, contended that it fell in the realm of hate speech.

The bench said that pending further orders from the court, Sudarshan TV is restrained from telecasting the show.

“Rule 6(1)(c), inter alia, stipulates that no programme should be carried which ‘contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes’.

“Under Rule 6(1)(d), the Programme Code should not, inter alia, contain anything which is defamatory, false or reflective of ‘half-truths and suggestive innuendos’,” noted the bench.

–IANS
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