The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the broadcast of a television show on Sudarshan News on the “infiltration of Muslims” in the civil services, Live Law reported. The promotional video for the show, featuring Sudarshan News head Suresh Chavhanke, had triggered massive outrage on social media.
Shortly before the Delhi High Court’s order, the Supreme Court had refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the show based on an “unverified transcript of the clip”, News18 reported. The court was hearing a separate petition against the show.
The High Court order came on a petition filed by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia University. Chavhanke had referred to the students of the university as “Jamia ke jihadi” in the video clip. The order was passed by a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla.
Shadan Farasat, the lawyer representing Jamia students, told the court that Chavhanke had openly indulged in hate speech and defamed the students. “Chavhanke openly incited his target non-Muslim audience by fear-mongering that ‘jihadis’ or terrorists from Jamia Millia Islamia would soon hold positions of authority and power,” Farasat said.
Farasat added that the show’s broadcast would make the students and the Muslim community in general vulnerable to communal attacks. “The proposed broadcast, if allowed to go ahead, would present a clear and present danger to the security of the petitioners, as well as that of other students and alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia, including those who cleared the Civil Services Exam in 2020, as well as the Muslim community at large and would leave them open to the imminent threat of violence, including the possibility of lynching,” the lawyer said.
In the Supreme Court
While refusing the ban earlier in the day, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph said: “The court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint order on publication or airing of views.”
“We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with the law, including the provisions of criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities,” it said.
The show was scheduled to be broadcast on Friday. In its promotional clip, released on Tuesday, Chavhanke had claimed that the number of Muslims appearing for and clearing the Union Public Service Exams had suddenly increased recently. “How has the number of Muslim IPS [Indian Police Service] and IAS [Indian Administrative Service] officers increased recently?” he had asked. “What will happen if ‘Jamia ke jihadi’ rise to positions of authority in the country?”
The video was fiercely criticised by police officers, journalists and activists. The Indian Police Service Association denounced the video as a communal and irresponsible journalism. The Indian Police Foundation and several other people demanded strict action against Chavhanke.