Centre advises TV channels against giving platform to persons facing charges of serious crimes such as terrorism

Directive comes amid appearance of U.S.-based “terrorist” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on a news channel a day ago

September 21, 2023 09:50 pm | Updated 09:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Thursday advised TV channels against giving any platform to persons facing charges of serious crimes such as terrorism, and those belonging to banned outfits, in an apparent reference to the appearance of U.S.-based “terrorist” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on a news channel a day ago.

The advisory has been issued in view of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, which lays down the circumstances and conditions under which the Centre can regulate or prohibit transmission/re-transmission of any programme.

The Union Home Ministry had designated Pannun as an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in July 2020. His organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), was banned in 2019. Multiple cases have been registered against the SFJ and him, alleging anti-India activities and links with other pro-Khalistan banned outfits.

On Wednesday, in the backdrop of the ongoing diplomatic row between Canada and India, a Hindi news channel had invited Pannun for a discussion.

In the advisory, the Ministry observed that “a person in a foreign country, against whom there are serious cases of crime including terrorism, belonging to an organisation which has been proscribed by law in India, was invited for a discussion on a television channel...”.

The person made several remarks that were detrimental to the security, sovereignty and integrity of the country, its friendly relations with a foreign state and also had the potential of disturbing public order in the country, it said.

“While the government upholds media freedom and respects its rights under the Constitution, the content telecast by TV channels must adhere to the provisions of the CTN Act, 1995, including sub section (2) of Section 20. In the light of the above, television channels are advised to refrain from giving any platform to reports/references about and views/agenda of persons of such background...,” said the Ministry.

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