Sudarshan News case: SC defers hearing to allow parties to reply to Centre’s affidavit
The Centre on Wednesday allowed the channel to telecast the remainder of ‘Bindas Bol’ with suitable modifications and moderations.
The Supreme Court on Thursday deferred the hearing for two weeks in the case against Sudarshan News’ controversial show Bindas Bol to allow parties to respond to the affidavit submitted by the Centre a day earlier, reported Live Law.
The Centre told the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud that it has passed an order cautioning the news channel for its television show, which accuses Muslims of “infiltrating” the civil services by using terror funding from abroad, terming it “UPSC Jihad”.
The bench then adjourned the hearing and directed the parties in the case to file their replies within two weeks when the matter will be heard again.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting allowed Sudarshan News to telecast the remainder of Bindas Bol with suitable modifications and moderations. 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 I&B ministry also warned Sudarshan News of stricter penal action if the channel is found in violation of the programme code.
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.