Today, a Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice K.M. Joseph, injuncted the Sudarshan News Channel from telecasting further episodes of “Bindas Bol” Show, on the ground that it Prima Facie appears to be “Hate Speech”.
Earlier on 28.08.2020, in the case of Firoz Iqbal Khan vs Union of India and Others (W.P. Civil 956 of2020), the Supreme Court declined to grant a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction of a programme titled “Bindaas Bol” telecasted on Sudarshan News Chanel [Read Here].
Today, when the matter was heard, the Counsel for Petitioner, submitted that the content of the episodes which have been telecast constitutes hate speech directed against the Muslim community.
It was submitted that the telecasts disparage the Muslim community by portraying it to be involved in the act of terror or, as it is labelled, “jehad” in infiltrating the civil services of the nation. It was also emphasized that that in the course of the telecast, palpably false statements had been made in connection with the Muslim community, regarding relaxation of age and number of attempts to be given to Hindu and Muslim Community.
Counsel for the Petitioner added that a carefully orchestrated attempt is being made to target the Muslim Community as being involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services.
The Solicitor General of India submitted that some of the broader issues which have been raised in the Writ Petition would have to be addressed from the perspective of regulating not merely the electronic media but other forms of media as well, through which information which is purveyed can transgress the line of permissible content which can be shared and aired.
He further submitted that in pursuance of the order of the Delhi High Court, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a communication on 9 September 2020 stating that if there is a breach of the Programme Code, the Government would consider whether a case has been made out for recourse to its powers under the law. [Read Here]
The Court took a serious view of the matter observed
“An insidious attempt has been made to insinuate that the community is involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services. Several statements in the episodes, which have been drawn to the attention of the Court are not just palpably erroneous but have been made in wanton disregard of the truth. There is no relaxation either in the age limit or in the number of attempts available to the Muslim community in the civil services. The drift, tenor and content of the episodes is to bring the community into public hatred and disrepute. The Court is duty bound to ensure compliance with the salutary principles of the Programme Code. The Programme Code has been formulated under Rule 6 of the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules and has statutory force and effect. Rule 6(1)(c), inter a/ia, stipulates that no programme should be carried which “contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes”. Under Rule 6(1)(d), the Programme code should not, inter a/ia, contain anything which is defamatory, false or reflective of “half – truths and suggestive innuendos”
“A breach of the Programme Code is subject to sanctions under Sections 19 and 20 of the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. The edifice of a democratic society committed to the rule of law under a regime of constitutional rights, values and duties is founded on the co-existence of communities. India is a melting pot of civilizations, cultures, religions and languages. Any attempt to vilify a religious community must be viewed with grave disfavour by this Court as the custodian of constitutional values. Its duty to enforce constitutional values demands nothing less.”
Consequently, the Court directed that pending further orders of the Court, the fifth respondent (Sudarshan News Channel) shall stand injuncted from making any further telecast in continuation of or similar to the episodes which were telecast on 11, 12, 13 and 14 September, 2020 either under the same or any other title or caption.
The hearing is continued to 17th September 2020