The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that Sudarshan News, which aired a program on Muslims allegedly infiltrating government services, was in violation of the Cable Television Network Act, Live Law reported. The government has also issued a show-cause notice to Suresh Chavhanke, the managing director of the channel, and sought a response by September 28.
According to the Cable Television Network Act, no programme that “contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes” can be aired.
“The Centre has issued a 4-page notice to Sudarshan News today,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court, according to Bar and Bench. “It says that the [Sudarshan] TV needs to give a written submission before 5 pm on September 28 regarding violation of program code and why action should not be taken against them.” Mehta said that if no reply is received from the news channel, an ex parte decision would be taken in the matter.
The court also raised the issue of the show targeting a particular community and raising questions on the Union Public Services Commission examinations.
“The anchor’s grievance is that a particular group is gaining entry into the civil services,” said Justice DY Chandrachud. “How insidious is this? Such insidious charges put a question mark on UPSC exams, cast aspersion on UPSC. Such allegations without factual basis, how can this be allowed? Can such programmes be allowed in a free society?”
The court added that the interim order passed against the news channel on September 16 should continue and directed the central government to file a response on the outcome of the notice. The court will next hear the case on October 5.
On September 16, the Supreme Court had restrained Sudarshan News from airing future episodes of its Bindas Bol show. The top court held that the four episodes telecast by the channel from September 11 to 14 had only indulged in the vilification of Muslims and called its content “rabid” and “insidious”. The channel’s Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke then submitted a 91-page affidavit, arguing that the show was a piece of investigative journalism and said that Sudarshan News had no problem with any individual from any community joining the civil services on merit.