The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the airing of a show, Bindas Bol , which was scheduled for telecast at 8 p.m. on August 28 on Sudarshan TV News. The show’s trailer claimed that Muslims are engaged in a conspiracy to ‘infiltrate’ the Civil Services.
Justice Navin Chawla passed the interim decision after former and current students of the Jamia Millia Islamia approached the High Court with the urgent petition to stay the programme.
The trailer, which was shared by Suresh Chavhanke, Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan TV News, on August 25 has since gone viral on social media.
Reacting to the trailer, the official twitter handle of the Indian Police Service Association on August 27 tweeted, “A news story targeting candidates in civil services on the basis of religion is being promoted by Sudarshan TV. We condemn the communal and irresponsible piece of journalism.”
During the hearing, the Central government told the court that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had received several complaints on the show, and a notice had been issued to Sudarshan TV News.
The High Court also issued notices to Sudarshan TV News and Mr. Chavhanke and posted the case to September 7. In the meantime, the court ordered the Ministry to decide on the notice and place its decision before the court.
In the petition, the Jamia students claimed that Mr. Chavhanke has openly engaged in hate speech and defamation against students of the university and Muslims.
The petition said the trailer showed Mr. Chavhanke claiming that the success of Jamia Millia students in the Civil Services examination 2020 represents a conspiracy to infiltrate the Civil Services by Muslims.
Advocate Shadan Farasat, representing students, said Mr. Chavhanke has “openly incited his target non-Muslim audience by fearmongering that ‘jihadis’ or terrorists from Jamia Millia Islamia would soon hold positions of authority and power like that of Collector and Secretary.”
The proposed broadcast and the trailer also constituted hate speech and criminal defamation and was an offence under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code, Mr. Farasat said.
SC turns down plea
Earlier on Friday, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea for a pre-telecast ban of Bindas Bol .
A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the plea by advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan raises “significant issues”. It noted that the issue highlights views which have a “divisive potential”.
“Consistent with the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the court will need to foster a considered debate on the setting up of standards of self-regulation,” the top court observed.
However, the court restrained from imposing a pre-broadcast injunction on the programme on the basis of an unverified clip shown by Mr. Khan.
“The Court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views,” it said.
The court, however, issued notice to the Centre, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News. The next hearing is on September 15.