Row over Sudarshan TV programme reaches court; SC and high court give different orders

A private television channel’s controversial programme which claimed a ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’ Friday came under judicial scrutiny before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

The apex court refused to restrain pre-broadcast ban on Sudarshan TV from telecasting ‘Bindas Bol’ programme but the High Court in an interim order stayed the telecast of the show which was scheduled for today itself at 8PM.The news on the issue came from the high court where a bench of Justice Navin Chawla restrained the Sudarshan TV from telecasting its programme on the petition filed by former and present students of Jamia Millia Islamia University.

It also emerged that the matter was also dealt by an apex court bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and K M Joseph which said it has to first circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views.A lawyer said going by the judicial discipline and precedence, the apex court order would prevail on the Delhi high court’s order and in all likelihood the matter can be transferred to the apex court on upcoming dates of hearing.

The apex court bench said “At this stage, we have desisted from imposing a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction on the basis of an unverified transcript of a forty nine second clip. The Court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views.

“We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities,” the bench said while hearing the petition filed by advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan.

However, before the high court advocate Shadan Shadan Farasat, appearing for petitioners, showed a video clip of the trailer that has been released by the TV channel for the programme and said the trailer itself shows that the programme could be in complete violation of the Programme Code and succeeded in getting a stay order on the airing of the programme.

In the apex court, notice was issued to the Centre, Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News.

In the viral clip, channel’s Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke had alleged a conspiracy in the “overwhelming” number of Muslim students clearing the Union Public Service Commission exams and was scheduled to broadcast big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’. While the apex court has fixed next date of hearing on September 15, the high court will hear the matter on September 7.

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