The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allowed Sudarshan News to telecast the remainder of its controversial programme, Bindas Bol, with suitable modifications and moderations, Bar and Bench reported.
In the order, passed on November 4 but placed on record before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the ministry pointed out that although freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right, “the tone and tenor of episodes telecast do indicate that the channel through the various utterances and audio-visual content breached the programme code.”
“The Ministry finds that they are not in good taste, offensive and has a likelihood of promoting communal attitudes,” the order said. The ministry said that it examined the case and balancing it with the fundamental rights of the broadcaster, it has decided to caution the news channel to “be careful in future”.
The I&B ministry said that the channel should review the content of the future episodes of the show to moderate the audio-visual content and ensure that there is no breach of the programme code. The ministry also warned Sudarshan News of stricter penal action if the channel is found in violation of the programme code, according to Live Law.
The ministry passed the order after hearing the grievances against the show, which accuses Muslims of “infiltrating” the civil services by using terror funding from abroad, terming it “UPSC Jihad”. The Supreme Court will take up the matter on Thursday.
On October 5, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had told the Supreme Court that a notice was issued to Sudarshan News on September 23, and their reply was received on September 28.
He said an inter-ministerial committee had been set up on October 1 to watch the show. Mehta said that the committee had watched the episodes and made some recommendations. The government added that Sudarshan News should be able to address the suggestions of the panel.
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.
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.