Other States

High Court overturns ban on Assamese TV serial ‘Begum Jaan’

The Gauhati High Court.  

The Gauhati High Court on Thursday set aside a two-month ban on the telecast of Assamese serial ‘Begum Jaan’ by the Assam police while advising the channel to delete before airing any content that may “harm the religious sentiment of any community”.

The Guwahati Commissioner of Police on August 24 suspended the serial following a series of complaints by individuals and groups, including the Hindu Jagaran Manch, that it hurt their religious sentiments by promoting a romantic alliance between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man.

Rengoni TV, the local satellite entertainment channel, filed a petition at the court challenging this order. The petitioner’s counsel argued that the District Monitoring Committee, on whose recommendation the Commissioner of Police had imposed the two-month ban, did not have a representative from the electronic media as mandated by the guidelines of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued in 2017.

The court of Justice Suman Shyam set the ban aside after noting that the order had been passed without hearing the affected parties and without conforming to the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1994.

“Since the impugned order has been set aside by this Court, the writ petitioners would be at liberty to telecast the serial ‘Begum Jaan’, if so advised,” the court order said.

The court, however, noted the apprehension of the respondents and advised the managing director of the TV channel to telecast the serial only after he “reaches his personal satisfaction to the effect that any content of the serial which is deemed to be universally objectionable on the ground of violation of communal harmony or which may contain anything that may harm the religious sentiment of any community, is deleted, before making the telecast”.

The order added: “Subject to observation of the above condition, it would be open for the petitioners to telecast the TV serial ‘Begum Jaan’ in accordance with law.”

Preety Kongkana, who plays the lead role of Janmoni in the serial, had earlier said she had received rape threats and was trolled and bullied on social media platforms following rumours that ‘Begum Jaan’ showed her character eloping with a Muslim man.

“The story is on a Hindu girl in trouble being helped by the Muslim man. The serial is about humanity being above faith and there is no communal angle,” she said.

The police said they were probing the complaint about harassment she had filed around the time the serial was suspended.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 1:18:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/high-court-overturns-ban-on-assamese-tv-serial-begum-jaan/article32521093.ece

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