Sudarshan News filed another affidavit in the Supreme Court ahead of its hearing on September 21 in a petition filed against it for airing a show that is allegedly communally inflammatory and as the bench termed it at the last hearing, “insidious”.
The affidavit has been filed by the Editor-in-Chief of the channel, Suresh Chavhanke, and he has brought to the notice of the court a show that was telecasted on NDTV news channel in September 2008 titled “Hindu Terror Myth or Fact?” whereby a “Hindu saint was shown with tilak and chillam and also a trishul (one of the most sacred symbols for Hindus and associated with most revered deity of the Hindus, Lord Shiva”.
The affidavit further points to NDTV’s show of August 2010 titled “Is Saffron Terror Real?” anchored by Barkha Dutt whereby a Hindu cultural gathering was shown in saffron colour clothes.
In the affidavit, Chavhanke has also undertaken to abide and comply with the programme code and the directions of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Making these instances grounds, the affidavit pleads that the stay imposed on the broadcast of the rest of the shows in the series titled “Naukarshahi me Muslamano ki Ghuspaith ke shadyantra ka bada khulasa” (The conspiracy behind Muslim infiltration in UPSC – The Big Reveal). The show was first aired on September 11 and was aired until September 14, when the apex court imposed the injunction.
Chavhanke even defended the use of the term “UPSC Jihad” stating that since it was alleging that Zakat foundation was receiving funds from terror-linked organizations, this term was being used.
Senior Advocate appearing for Sudarshan News, at the last hearing, assured the court that a clear affidavit will be filed on stereotypes having a tendency to be perceived as hate speech.
The hearing is likely to continue today, at 2 P.M.
On August 28, the apex court refused to issue an injunction on the basis of an “unverified transcript of a 49 second clip” which was the promotional video of the show titled “Bindaas Bol”. The court had still noted that expression of views derogatory to a particular community had a “divisive potential” and that the petition had raised significant issues bearing on the protection of constitutional rights.
However, on the same day, Delhi High Court had granted stay on the broadcast of the show with directions to the Centre to make a decision in this regard. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an order on September 9 allowing the broadcast of the show and from September 11 onwards, the show called “Bindaas Bol” was telecast on Sudarshan News.
An intervention application has also been filed by 7 retired civil servants urging the court to give an authoritative meaning to “hate speech” so that the authorities implementing it receive clarity on what speech comes within its ambit. “The interpretative task before this Hon’ble Court therefore is to distinguish between speech that is merely offensive, indecorous or in bad taste [and therefore covered by Article 19(1)(a)] and hate speech that is rightly penalised by Articles 153A & B and the other provisions pointed out above,” the plea read.
This “UPSC Jihad” series has been running since September 11 and was slated to continue until September 20. However, with the Supreme Court order restraining broadcast, September 14 happens to be the last telecast of the show.
During the hearing of September 18, the bench, comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph stated that the show was presented in an “inciteful manner”.
CJP’s complaint against Sudarshan News
CJP was the first organisation to act when we filed a complaint with the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) when the promotional video for the show Bindass Bol had first emerged. CJP complained against the deeply communal content of the promotional video of the show on ‘UPSC Jihad’, where the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke alleged a conspiracy by Muslims to take over civil services in India. But NBSA forwarded our complaint to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stating that since Sudarshan News was not a part of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) the NBSA could not take action against it.
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