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Sudarshan News gets notice from Centre for airing show

September 24, 2020 06:21 AM


Sudarshan News gets notice from Centre for airing show

Abraham Thomas

NEW DELHI : The Centre has issued notice to Sudarshan News channel, citing a prima facie (at first sight) violation of the programme code for broadcasters after it aired four episodes of a show that targeted Muslims for allegedly infiltrating the administrative and police services of the country.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday about the notice during the hearing on a public interest litigation that sought restraint to be placed on the show, titled Bindas Bol, whose telecast was blocked by the top court with six episodes remaining to be telecast.

Mehta proposed that the hearing on the PIL be deferred till the Centre takes a decision. The court agreed to the suggestion and directed the Centre to place its decision before the court at the next hearing on October 5.

A three-judge bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud said, “We are of the view that since notice to show-cause has been issued (to Sudarshan News), it will be appropriate to list the case on October 5. The notice shall be dealt with in accordance with law and the Centre shall submit the report to this Court indicating the outcome of the notice (issued on September 23).”

The bench, also comprising justices Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, reminded the Centre that the notice had been issued only after the court stayed the airing of the show.

“But for the fact that this Court had not intervened, the programme would have been over by now,” the bench said.

Mehta replied: “My broad proposition is that it will be better if your (Court’s) intervention in these matters is the last resort.”

The top court had on September 15 stayed the remaining episodes of the show and set out to examine if the channel violated the fundamental rights of persons belonging to the Muslim community by accusing them of infiltrating the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS).

The Court also involved the News Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India to evolve broad standards for television with regard to airing content that offends secularism and religious fraternity.

In its order, the Court stated: “Since the notice has been issued during the pendency of these proceedings, further steps in pursuance of the notice to show cause shall be subject to the result of the present proceedings.” In the meanwhile, the stay ordered by the court would continue.

The PIL petitioner, Firoz Iqbal Khan, welcomed the Court order. Senior advocate Anoop G Chaudhary, appearing for Khan, said that if the decision by the Centre goes against the petitioner, it can always be challenged in the court proceedings.

The bench asked Mehta if the petitioners could also be heard by the Centre before a decision is taken on the show cause notice.

The law officer refused to accommodate on this request claiming that the notice to the channel was issued under Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 under which any violation of the Programme Code is dealt with.


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