Supreme Court defers hearing for the Sudarshan TV row by two weeks

Pratham Chitlangiya

24th November 2020

The Apex Court of India (Source: The Hindu)

NEW DELHI: On November 18 2020, in an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Centre annexed its November 4 order in which it had warned the channel of strict penal action in case of future violations. The Supreme court on November 19 2020, took note of Centre's affidavit regarding the four episodes of the 'Bindass bol' programme aired on Sudharshan TV alleging the infiltration of Muslims in the bureaucracy with ulterior motives. The bench then proceeded to adjourn the hearing granting leave to the Petitioners and Intervenors to file a Reply to the Centre's Affidavit. The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra noted that the Centre's affidavit had been filed indicating the steps which have been taken in terms of an earlier order of the top court. Advocate Rajat Nair, representing the Centre, informed the bench that the Union Ministry of data and Broadcasting had filed the affidavit which it has placed on record in the November 4 order passed by it within the proceedings concerning the show-cause notice issued to the channel over the controversial programme.

The order sent by the Ministry, which was placed on record, said "after taking into consideration the written and oral submissions of the channel and therefore the findings and proposals of the IMC, the ministry is of the opinion that while freedom of speech and expression may be a fundamental right, the tone and tenor of the episodes telecast do indicate that the channel has, through the varied utterances and audio-visual content, breached the programme code," and that the Ministry finds that "they're not in quality, are offensive and feature a likelihood of promoting communal attitude," it said, while, adding that the Ministry has examined the four episodes, including the 13 video clips mentioned within the show-cause notice issued on September 23 to the channel.

According to The Hindu, the order said, "The Ministry of data and Broadcasting, after examining all facts and circumstances of the case and balancing the elemental rights of the broadcasters, hereby 'cautions' Sudarshan 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."

The Ministry further stated that the telecast of remaining episodes of the programme would be proceeded according to the order of the apex court. The apex court had earlier imposed a pre-telecast ban on the remaining episodes of the programme.

On September 23, the Centre had informed the highest court that it clearly found violations of the programme code by Sudarshan TV's ‘Bindass Bol’ show and has issued a show-cause notice to the channel.

(Sources: The Hindu, Times Now, OpIndia, Times of India)

Edited by: Suditi Jha

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