Sony TV not to telecast episodes on recruitment scam

Gives assurance in Supreme Court on show featuring Chautala

Sony TV on Wednesday gave an assurance in the Supreme Court that it will not telecast episodes of its show Crime Patrol Dastak that featured the teachers’ recruitment scam involving former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Multi Screen Media, gave this assurance before a three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen hearing an appeal filed by Mr. Chautala and others to restrain the television channel from telecasting the episodes based on the scam for which he has been convicted by a trial court.

The petition, moved by Mr. Chautala and two others, challenged the Delhi High Court’s order by which a Division Bench set aside the single Judge’s February 22 order restraining Sony TV from the telecast of the episode of Crime Patrol Dastak till April 4 when their appeal challenging their conviction was to come up for hearing.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi and senior counsel K.V. Viswanathan, appearing for Mr. Chautala, submitted that the proposed telecast of such episodes constituted a real danger to the fundamental rights of the petitioner. Mr. Rohatgi said allowing telecast of such a programme would irreparably and prejudicially harm the interest of Mr. Chautala and negatively impact their statutory appeal in respect of the criminal case.

Mr. Rohatgi also drew the trial court’s verdict to drive home the point that nowhere there was a mention about the petitioner having paid or received a bribe but the programme and the script talked about a bribe. Till the appeal was decided, the petitioners were deemed to be innocent and “your entertainment can’t be at the cost of someone’s innocence”.

When Mr. Justice Sen wanted to know from Mr. Salve whether he would remove any reference to “bribe”, Mr. Salve said: “There will be no allusion or innuendo to bribe in the episodes and we will mention appeal is pending both before and end of the programme.” However, Mr. Rohatgi said telecast of the programme in any manner was not permissible. But Mr. Salve pointed out that the court had allowed the telecast of a programme on Parliament attack even as an appeal of the case was pending in 2004. Arguments will continue on Thursday.

Counsel for Chautala: Real danger to fundamental rights

“Till appeal was decided, petitioners deemed to be innocent”

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