Amid row over the recent Tanishq advertisement showing inter-faith couple, a plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking to regulate news channels over broadcast and publishing of content based on communal disharmony and hate speech.
The plea said it can be clearly inferred from the Tata jewellery brand advertisement that its purpose was to showcase the spirit of unity and brotherhood amongst two religious groups.
However, news channel Sudarshan TV in its October 12 show ‘Bindas Bol’, made their best attempts to incite hatred amongst the two religious groups by terming the Tanishq ad as advertisement jihad , the petition filed by an advocate said.
Contentions in the Plea
It is the Petitioner’s case that the edifice of a stable democratic society is based on the co-existence of communities and any attempt to vilify such co-existence must be viewed with disfavour.
The Petitioner informs that the Central Government and other authorities have, from time to time, issued directions and advisories to all private satellite TV channels, asking them to refrain from broadcasting content that may incite violence, threaten national integrity and violate the Programme Code.
However, Sudarshan TV has not followed any of such advisories by erming the Tanishq ad as advertisement jihad and has come up with broadcasts and printed blogs that target the sentiments of a particular community, the Petitioner states.
As an instance, the Petitioner refers to Sudarshan TV’s broadcast on Tanshiq advertisement , which showed the spirit of unity and brotherhood between two religious groups.It termed the Tanishq ad as advertisement jihad.
“However, Sudharsahan TV in its 8 pm show ‘Bindas Bol’ dated 12.10.2020 made their best attempts to incite hatred amongst above said religious group..editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News and anchor of the show, Sh. Suresh Chavhanke mentioned that love jihad is now being promoted by the way of advertisements and to quote him he said ‘advertisement jihad’.. an insidious attempt has been made to insinuate that the community is involved in a planned conspiracy to infiltrate the advertisement agency.”, the Petition reads.
It is asserted that these media reports not only disturb public tranquillity by blatantly promoting hatred and distrust but also result in social boycott of members of the minority community highlighting incident of quoting Tanishq ad as advertisement jihad.
The Petitioner has thus contended that prima facie, there is a failure on part of the sovereign to ensure the protection of the rights of general public under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India r/w the Indian Penal Code.
The Petitioner, accordingly, seeks a direction to the Central Government and other authorities to form guidelines to ensure that media does not abuse the freedom of speech and expression.
A mechanism to check content and advertisements, which are spreading hatred and are against the spirit of the Union of India is also sought.
Prayer is also made to ensure that the media houses report only true facts and not opinions and be responsible for what they are publishing.
The other prayers in the petition include:
– Mandatory suo motu registration of FIR against orator of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines of religion in the alternative.
– Constitution of a committee by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India for taking cognizance of hate/derogatory speeches for initiation of criminal proceeding.
– Mandatory imposition of “gag order” restraining the orator/author of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines of religion from addressing the public anywhere within the territory of India till the disposal of the criminal proceeding initiated against him.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.