The Supreme Court, after hearing a different petitioner on the issue of Sudarshan news, declined to stop the airing of the show, saying it was important to be circumspect about imposing a pre-broadcast injunction.
The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph said that it has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views.
The Court, however, issued notice to the Centre, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News returnable on September 15.
The order reads,
“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.”
The Delhi High Court has stayed the broadcast of a show of Sudarshan News channel allegedly based on “infiltration of Muslims” in the Civil Services, on a plea filed by students of Jamia Millia Islamia.
The stay order has been passed by a single-Bench of Justice Navin Chavla in an urgent hearing.
Advocate Shadan Farasat for the petitioners had sought prohibition of the proposed broadcast of a program titled “Bindas Bol” on Sudarshan News, scheduled to be aired at 8 pm today, allegedly containing content that may defame, attack and incite hatred against Jamia Milia Islamia, its alumni and the Muslim community at large.
As per the Petitioners, they have seen the trailer of the show, anchored by journalist Suresh Chavhanke, in which Mr. Chavhanke has openly engaged in hate speech and defamation against students of Jamia Milia Islamia and the Muslim community.
The petitioners submitted the show of Sudarshan news claims that the success of Jamia Milia Islamia students in the Civil Services examination 2020 represents a “conspiracy to infiltrate the civil service by Muslims“.
It was submitted that Mr. Chavhanke has “openly incited his target non-Muslim audience by fear-mongering that “jihadis” or terrorists from Jamia Milia Islamia would soon hold positions of authority and power like that of Collector and Secretary.“
It was contended that the proposed broadcast of Sudarshan News along with the trailer violates the programme code set out under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, read with the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994. The proposed broadcast and trailer also constitute hate speech and criminal defamation and is an offence under Sections 153A (1), 153B(1), 295A and 499 of the Indian Penal Code.
“The proposed broadcast, if allowed to go ahead, would present a clear and present danger to the security of the Petitioners, as well as that of other students and alumni of Jamia Milia Islamia including those who cleared the Civil Services Exam in 2020, as well as the Muslim community at large, and would leave them open to the imminent threat of violence, including the possibility of lynching. This would amount to an extremely egregious violation of the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed to the Petitioners under Article 21 of the Constitution,“ the Petitioners contended.