Disapproved News Channel’s Broadcast Levelling Allegations Against Activist Shehla Rashid: NBDSA to HC

The News Broadcasters and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that it has expressed strong disapproval and objected to a broadcast aired by a television channel, in which charges were levelled against activist Shehla Rashid by her estranged father.

The NBDSA also informed the court that the channel, Zee News, was asked to remove the links to the broadcast, which was aired on November 30, 2020, from all platforms.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Rashid seeking an unambiguous and unequivocal apology from the channel and television journalist Sudhir Chaudhary, a former Zee News anchor, to mitigate the damage caused to her reputation by allegedly airing a one-sided, defamatory broadcast, in which charges were levelled against her by her estranged father.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav was told that the NBDSA, the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) and Zee News had filed their replies to the petition and the journalist would adopt the channel’s response.

Advocate Nisha Bhambhani, representing the NBDSA, told the court that the authority headed by its chairperson, retired Justice A K Sikri, passed an order on March 31, 2022 on a complaint from Rashid against the broadcast.

She said the NBDSA has expressed strong disapproval and objected to the broadcast and decided to direct the broadcaster to exercise caution while airing such programmes and not repeat the violations in the future.

The counsel said subsequently, the channel informed the NBDSA that it had removed all the links to the programme from its website.

The court granted four weeks’ time to the petitioner to file a rejoinder to the respondents’ replies and listed the matter for further hearing on July 19.

The court had, on September 16, 2022, issued notices and sought the responses of the NBDSA, the NDBA, Zee News and Chaudhary on the petition of Rashid, a former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) leader.

Rashid approached the high court seeking modifications in an order passed by the NBDSA on March 31, 2022 on her complaint, in which she had alleged that she was “vilified and slandered” solely on the basis of statements from her estranged father, without taking or airing her version of the story.

In the order, the NBDSA had directed the channel to take down the links to the show and observed that the broadcast had caused prejudice towards Rashid.

According to the petitioner, the authority has refused to direct the broadcaster to air an apology, a relief that the NBDSA has given in other similarly-placed cases.

“Such unreasoned refusal is wholly arbitrary and unsustainable in law and this writ ought to issue to remedy the violation of public duty by the respondents,” the plea says.

It seeks modifications in the NBDSA’s order to the extent that the news channel and the journalist be directed to issue an unambiguous and unequivocal apology to the petitioner to mitigate the “damage and prejudice” caused to her dignity and reputation.

Rashid’s counsel had earlier said “in today’s situation, when these kinds of allegations are made, it is important that there is a sense of responsibility of the media and people who make these allegations”.

The plea says the acts of the channel and the journalist of airing the broadcast and following it up with “additional biased and malicious coverage” call for an intervention by the court to provide relief to the petitioner, whose reputation and image were “damaged” with impunity by the respondents in violation of her fundamental right to live with dignity.

Related Articles

Latest Articles