The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allowed Sudarshan News to broadcast a controversial show on the “infiltration of Muslims” in the civil services, PTI reported on Thursday. The programme, Bindaas Bol, was to be originally telecast on August 28, but the Delhi High Court stayed the broadcast of the show on the same day and later refused to grant any relief in connection with the case.
The ministry has asked the news channel to ensure that the show does not violate any programme code. The promotional video for the show, featuring Sudarshan News head Suresh Chavhanke, had triggered massive outrage on social media last month. The I&B Ministry had issued a notice to Sudarshan News after complaints, asking it to clarify about the show in context of the Programme Code enshrined under Cable Television Network Rules, 1994. The channel, in its written submission, told the ministry that the show was not violative of the law and if at all was found to be so, action could be taken against it.
After the Centre’s order, Chavhanke claimed vindication of the channel’s stance and said it would air the programme on Friday at 8 pm.
The news channel also argued that the ministry cannot do pre-censorship of a programme. “Having regard to the aforementioned facts and circumstances of the case, Sudarshan TV channel is hereby directed to ensure that the programme proposed to be telecast does not violate any of the programme code,” the ministry’s order said. “If any violation of the programme code is found, action as per law will be taken.”
The order also stated that there is no pre-censorship of any show telecast on TV channels, adding that this was a “peculiar situation” where while the programme has not been telecast, its promo formed the basis of complaints received. “Reference is invited to section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995,” it said. “Sub-section (3) provides that where the Central government is of the opinion that any programme of any channel is not in conformity with the prescribed programme code referred to in section 5 (of the act), it may by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of such programme.”
The Supreme Court had also refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the show based on an “unverified transcript of the clip” on August 28, shortly before the Delhi High Court’s order. 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 promo clip. The order was passed by a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla. The Jamia students had said that Chavhanke had openly engaged in hate speech and defamed them. “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,” the counsel for the students told the High Court.
In its promotional clip, released on August 25, 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.