The Centre’s Narendra Modi government has performed a U-turn on Sudarshan TV’s Islamophobic series ‘UPSC Jihad’ after the Supreme Court said that the pro-RSS TV channel had indulged in vilifying the Muslim community. In its latest affidavit filed before the top court, the Information and Broadcasting ministry has said that Sudarshan TV had indeed violated the ‘programme code’ and ‘stricter penal action’ would be taken if Sudarshan TV was found to be in breach of programme code in the future.
“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, after examining all facts and circumstances of the case and balancing the fundamental rights of the broadcasters, hereby ”cautions” Sudarshan TV Channel Ltd to be careful in future. It is further directed that if any violation of the programme code is found in future, stricter penal action would be taken,” news agency PTI quoted the affidavit filed by the I&B ministry.
The latest stand by the I&B ministry on Sudarshan TV is in sharp contrast to its earlier decision, allowing the broadcast of the controversial show, triggering a huge backlash from the members of the civil society.
The ministry said in its latest affidavit, “After taking into consideration the written and oral submissions of the channel and the findings and recommendations of the IMC, the ministry is of the opinion that while freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right, the tone and tenor of the episodes telecast do indicate that the channel has, 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 attitude.”
The change in stand by the ministry appears to have emanated from the Supreme Court’s suggestion to appoint a committee to set a mechanism to regulate India’s TV channels that have become the extension of the BJ government’s propaganda machinery. The Bench headed by Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph and Indu Malhotra had earlier said that the court was thinking to appoint a committee of five distinguished citizens who can come up with certain standards for the electronic media.
The central government has now said that the telecast of the remaining episodes of on the controversial topic by Sudarshan TV would be subject to the Supreme Court’s order.
Pro-Hindutva Sudarshan TV had broadcast a series of hate speech masquerading as investigative journalism and accused the Muslim community of infiltrating the civil services as if aspiring to join the civil services was a crime. The Delhi High Court had first stayed its broadcast, but the Centre’s Narendra Modi government allowed its telecast.