New Delhi, September 15: The Supreme Court has strongly objected to the Sudarshan TV program being aired about the alleged infiltration of the Muslim community into the civil services.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud has stayed the telecast of the program till further orders.
The court said that the freedom of media cannot be uncontrolled. Some rules must be made for this. The next hearing of the case will be on September 17.
The court said that being the Supreme Court of the country, we cannot permit to quote that Muslims are infiltrating into civil services. You cannot say that journalists have immense power to do this.
The court said that it is a different matter to report on the alleged conspiracy of a foreign organization, but how can we call the whole community involved in the conspiracy.
The court described the program as toxic and divisive in society at first sight.
The channel’s lawyer called it investigative journalism.
During the hearing, Justice DY Chandrachud said that questioning on the credibility of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination; Is there anything more objectionable than this?
Justice KM Joseph said that the media enjoys as much freedom as other citizens of the country. Media freedom cannot be unbridled. See the way you debit TV. Anchors mute guests whose opinions differ from them, only the anchors continue to speak.
On behalf of Sudarshan TV, senior advocate Shyam Dewan demanded that today’s and tomorrow’s episodes should not be stopped. The day after tomorrow, he will file a detailed answer. The channel is doing the duty of journalism. Information about the conspiracy against the country is being conveyed to the people.
He said that the Supreme Court should instruct the government to watch all the episodes and tell if the program code has been violated or not.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the freedom of journalist is supreme. Trying to control the press will prove harmful to democracy.
On this, the court said that the freedom of media cannot be uncontrolled. The press enjoys the same freedom as other citizens. Self regulation is needed.
The court told lawyer Shyam Dewan appearing for Sudarshan News that your clients are harming the country. They need to implement their right to freedom of expression with caution. They have to understand that Hindustan is a confluence of diverse culture.
Justice Chandrachud told to Shyam Dewan that you should show us the part of your show which you think is very important. Then Shyam Diwan said that you can watch all the shows. He asked for two weeks to reply.
Justice KM Joseph then asked if you would not run the show till then. Then the Diwan said that we are not going to give such a concession.
Then Justice Chandrachud said when your next episode is. Then the Diwan said that it is tonight. They will be shown continuously, one after the other.
On behalf of the petitioner, Shadan Faradat said that we have given the link of the entire show in the petition. It cannot be shown in a court.
Shyam Diwan said that a lot of money is coming from abroad, which is not good for India.
The government also said on September 9 that the program code should be followed.
Then Justice Joseph said that the government said that you do not violate the program code, is the penalty imposed.
Advocate Shah Rukh Alam, on behalf of an intervenor, said that Sudarshan TV has sought feedback from people about its program. A young child has sent a video, stating that he swears against anti-nationals as the anchor of Sudarshan TV. Such videos are being used as a promotion for the program. These videos have received around 8000 likes.
Shadan Faradit, reading Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks Act, said that the program explains the code. Section 19 prohibits a program which is designed against a community or tarnishes communal harmony.
Describing the program of Sudarshan TV, Farheet said that it said that the Muslims who are being selected through UPSC are jihadis. This is being done under the guise of investigative journalism.
Justice Joseph said that Rule 6 of the program code says that you cannot show programs that spoil communal harmony. Do you believe that the harmony of the country is being spoiled?
Justice Chandrachud said that Tushar Mehta told that after your September 9 notification, the show was broadcast on September 11 and 14. Did the Ministry form its opinion on these programs? Then Mehta said that we will take instructions on this.
During the hearing, the court asked the News Broadcaster Association (NBA) whether you had anything other than just a letter head. What action do you take, when the media sits on its own investigation and kills the credibility of a man?
Justice Chandrachud said that cable TV cannot broadcast programs targeting any particular community. Then Tusshar Mehta said that you must have seen the program which highlighted ‘Hindu terrorism’. The question is how far the court can control the transmission of content.