The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority has ordered television news channel Aaj Tak to remove from its website and social media handles the “fictional videos” of a programme in which anchor Sudhir Chaudhary narrated the story of a highway dacoit while discussing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a 2019 defamation case.

The show, Black and White, carried animations showing a man looting people at gunpoint and then being caught by the police. During the episode, Chaudhary also referred to a social media post by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and said she and her party were defending Rahul Gandhi.

The news regulatory body said in its order on Wednesday that “the story of the robber depicted in the broadcast and the imputation it carried with it concerning Rahul Gandhi’s conviction, was not in good taste and should have been avoided”.

It also urged the channel to exercise caution when airing fictional content in the future.

The action came in response to a complaint filed by Srinivas BV, the national president of the Indian Youth Congress.

Order to News18 India, Times Now Navbharat and Aaj Tak

The authority has also asked ordered television news channels News18 India, Times Now Navbharat and Aaj Tak to take down videos of five shows for spreading hatred and communal disharmony.

The news regulatory body took action against the news channels based on complaints by activist Indrajeet Ghorpade.

In the case of News18 India, the News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 for three shows it broadcast in 2022. Two of these shows were hosted by Aman Chopra, and one by Amish Devgan.

Chopra and Devgan had said that the murder of Shraddha Walker by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala in 2022 was connected to “love jihad”.

“Love jihad” is a Hindutva conspiracy theory that accuses Muslim men of trapping Hindu women in romantic relationships to convert them to Islam.

“NBDSA stated that the term ‘love jihad’ should not be used loosely and should be used with great introspection in future broadcasts as religious stereotyping can corrode the secular fabric of the country, cause irreparable harm to a community and create religious intolerance or disharmony,” the order said.

The news regulatory body also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Times Now Navbharat for its show on “love jihad”.

In its order against Aaj Tak, the news regulatory body directed the channel to remove the video of a show anchored by Sudhir Chaudhary on violence during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami in 2023, saying that he targeted the entire Muslim community due to the acts of certain miscreants.