Rattled by Supreme Court’s tough talking on irresponsible broadcast by TV channels, Centre moves in with lightning speed, says ‘regulate digital media first’


Frightened by the tough-talking of the Supreme Court on the Islamophobic broadcast by pro-Hindutva Sudarshan TV, the Centre’s Narendra Modi government has asked the top court to first regulate digital media before laying more guidelines for the TV channels. In an affidavit submitted by Vijay Kaushik, Under-secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Centre also appeared to desert Sudarshan TV, which it had allowed to go ahead with the controversial Islamophobic broadcast on Muslims joining the civil services.

The affidavit, according to the Live Law website, said, “Even if this Hon’ble Court considers it appropriate to undertake the said exercise, there is no justification to confine this exercise only to mainstream electronic media. The media includes mainstream electronic media, mainstream print media as well as a parallel media namely digital print media and digital web-based news portal and you tube channels as well as ‘Over The Top’ platforms [OTTs]”.

The affidavit also said that the present petition be confined to only one channel namely Sudarshan TV.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph on Tuesday had made scathing observations while restraining pro-Hindutva Sudarshan TV from broadcasting the remaining episodes of its controversial series against Muslims. However, the most striking aspect of Tuesday’s hearing was of Justice Chandrachud dropping a bombshell by advising to prepare new broadcasting guidelines for the Indian TV channels such as Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV and others, often referred to as India’s own Radio Rwanda. Justice Joseph had also come  down heavily on Indian TV anchors for muting guests who disagreed with them.

Justice Chandrachud, after dictating the order, had orally remarked that the top court was thinking to appoint a committee of five distinguished citizens who can come up with certain standards for the electronic media.

“We don’t want any persons of politically divisive nature and we need members who are of commendable stature,” the Bar and Bench website had quoted the Supreme Court as saying.

Justice Chandrachud had added, “Let the best within the nation suggest measures which we can help debate on our platform and then arrive at standards…now an anchor is targeting one particular community. To say we are a democracy we need to have certain standards in place.”

Indian TV channels have surrendered their editorial freedom before the central government in the last six years. The Supreme Court making an intervention on the rampant hate speech broadcast by Indian TV channels appears to have left the Indian government rattled. The Indian government is widely perceived to be the biggest beneficiary of the hate propaganda pushed by Indian TV channels.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will resume its hearing on the broadcast of hate speech by Sudarshan TV today in a bid to vilify the Muslim community.