The Supreme Court on Tuesday made scathing observations on the communal broadcast by pro-Hindutva Sudarshan TV on Muslims joining the Indian civil services. The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph restrained Sudarshan TV from broadcasting the remaining episodes of its controversial series against Muslims.
The order said, “We order and direct, pending further orders of the court, Sudarshan News TV is restrained from telecasting the show in continuation of the shows already telecasted either under the same or a different caption.”
The top court said that ‘any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with great disfavour by this court which is a custodian of constitutional rights.’
When Sudarshan TV’s lawyer, Shyam Divan said that his client was well within his right to broadcast the anti-Muslim show, Justice Chandrachud said, “This is not a freedom of speech issue. When you say there is a conspiracy by Muslims to flood the civil services.”
Justice Chandrachud continued, “When you say students of Jamia are part of a conspiracy to infiltrate civil services, that is not permissible. You cannot target one community and brand them a particular manner.
At this point, Justice Joseph remarked, “That too by making factually incorrect statements.”
Divan made desperate attempts to convince the Bench to stop the stay on the broadcast of remaining episodes of the series against Muslims, but the judges refused to buy his arguments. Justice Chandrachud said, “As a Supreme Court of the nation we cannot allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating civil services. You cannot say that the journalist has absolute freedom doing this.”
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Divan, according to Livelaw, said, “There cannot be a vilification of community. I agree. But one slide taken from here and another slide taken from there is not the whole show.”
Referring to programme code, Justice Joseph said that it prohibited the telecast of shows ‘promoting communal attitude.’ He added, “That is against the diversity and harmony of our country.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta too made attempts to stop the stay on the broadcast as he said that there were statutory authorities to deal with the violations. To which, Justice Josehp replied, “The damage will be irreversible.”
Justice Chandrachud was more scathing as he asked, “After the Centre passed the order on September 9, the broadcast took place on 11,12, 13 and 14. Did anybody in the Ministry apply their mind on the broadcast which happened from 11 -14?”
The Centre’s Information and Broadcasting ministry had allowed the broadcast of the controversial show last week, triggering huge backlash from the members of the civil society.
Livelaw website reported that Justice Chandrachud, after dictating the order, orally remarked that the court was thinking to appoint a committee of five distinguished citizens who can come up with certain standards for the electronic media.