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HC asks NBDSA, news channel, anchor to respond to activist’s plea for apology

Shehla Rashid complained that she was ‘vilified and slandered’ in the news programme

September 17, 2022 12:22 am | Updated 10:19 am IST - New Delhi

Shehla Rashid

Shehla Rashid

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the News Broadcasters and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), a news channel and a TV news anchor to respond to activist Shehla Rashid’s plea seeking an apology for airing a news programme insinuating her involvement in anti-national activities.

Justice Yashwant Varma issued notices to NBDSA, News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA), Zee News and its former anchor Sudhir Chaudhary on the petition by Ms. Rashid, a former JNU students’ union leader. The High Court has posted the case for further hearing on February 23, 2023.

Ms. Rashid had complained to NBDSA in respect of a programme aired on November 30, 2020, titled “DNA” hosted by Mr. Chaudhary. In her complaint, Ms. Rashid detailed the gross violation of the code of ethics in the broadcast programme as she was “vilified and slandered to the extent of alleging to have links with terrorists – solely on the basis of statements by her estranged father without taking or airing her version of the story”.

Ms. Rashid, in her petition filed through advocate Prasanna S., has challenged a March 31, 2022, decision of NBDSA which despite observing that the broadcast programme had caused prejudice to her and “having noticed the clear and manifest violation of the code of ethics”, refused to direct Zee News to air an apology.

Ms. Rashid has sought for a modification of NBDSA’s order to the extent of directing Zee News and Mr. Chaudhary to issue “an unambiguous and unequivocal apology” to her and to broadcast the same during prime-time to mitigate the damage and prejudice caused to her dignity and reputation.

Ms. Rashid said the broadcast programme covered the interview of her father, Abdul Rashid Shora, against whom there existed a restraint order of November 17, 2020, for an ongoing case of domestic violence against her and her mother and sister. “In the present case, the Respondent No. 3-4 (Zee News and Mr Chaudhary) have abused the privilege extended to them by airing a one-sided, accusatory and defamatory broadcast... thereby making wild, baseless and unfounded allegations against the petitioner insinuating and asserting her involvement in anti-national activities, allegedly threatening her father and siphoning crowdfunds among other allegations, without taking or airing her version in respect of the allegations,” the plea said.

“Respondent No. 3-4 without conducting due and diligent enquiry of the background of the case facilitated the retaliatory action of the disgruntled father against the petitioner, which is a blatant violation of norms code of ethics required to be adhered by the media,” the plea added.

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