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Delhi HC stays broadcast of Sudarshan News programme after plea by Jamia students

The Delhi high court on Friday stayed the proposed broadcast of a show titled “Bindas Bol” by Sudarshan News after former and current students of Jamia Milia Islamia, filed a plea seeking a ban on the telecast. This came even as the Supreme Court on Friday declined to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the channel from airing the programme. The show concerned Muslims entering civil services, which the channel allegedly likened to “infiltration” and “Jihad”.

The plea alleged the show was an attempt to “defame, attack and incite hatred” against Jamia Milia Islamia, its alumni and the Muslim community at large. The HC stayed the broadcast until September 7.

Justice Navin Chawla also issued a notice to the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on the plea filed through advocate Shadan Farasat contending that the trailer of the show has “openly engaged” in hate speech.

Appearing for the I&B ministry, advocate Anurag Alhuwalia, the central government’s standing counsel, accepted the notice, following which the matter was posted for hearing on September 7.

The petition said the proposed broadcast along with the trailer violates the programme code set out under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, read with the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994.

“The proposed broadcast and trailer also constitute hate speech and criminal defamation and is an offence under Sections 153A (1), 153B(1), 295A and 499 of the Indian Penal Code,” the plea read.

After the order was passed, the show that was supposed to be telecast was not aired. Instead, Suresh Chavanke, Suresh Chavanke, editor and CMD, Sudarshan News, conducted another show where he accused Jamia Milia Islamia students and alumni of using the court to get the show stopped.

He said the order was passed when he was not present, and will urge the court to allow him to broadcast the show on the next date.

“I am doing the show but I will not discuss the issues the court has restrained me from talking about. I ask the people of Jamia to face me directly rather than going to the court,” he said on Friday’s show.

SC declines stay

An apex court bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud said the court has to be cautious in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views and cannot prevent airing of a programme based on an unverified transcript of a 49-second clip.

“At this stage, we have desisted from imposing a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction on the basis of an unverified transcript of a forty nine second clip. The court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views. We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities,” the bench which also comprised justice KM Joseph said.

The top court issued notice to central government, Press Council of India, Sudarshan News and News Broadcasters Association and posted the case for further consideration in September.

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