NDTV India which is embroiled in the Pathankot Attack reportage controversy, today in a Supreme Court hearing declined to apologise for its coverage for which it was doled out a token one day ban by the I&B ministry. It may be noted that even this ban was later put on hold by the I&B Ministry. Now the matter will be heard in detail in the Supreme Court:
Breaking: NDTV refuses to apologise for Pathankot Airbase terror attack reportage; matter to be heard in detail by Supreme Court
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) March 31, 2017
As exclusively reported by us here, NDTV India received this ban from the I&B ministry for its live coverage of the anti-terror operations via which the channel gave away sensitive information about the Pathankot airbase, like the details of ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter planes, rocket launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel tanks, etc., which could have been misused by the terrorists to cause grave harm to the airbase and the people inside it.
We had recently reported how NDTV India had moved to the Supreme Court after its Hindi channel received the 1 day ban. As the Supreme Court had decided to hear its case, the ban had to be suspended. In one of the hearings of the case on 24th March, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi who was representing the I&B ministry had asked for a clear apology from the NDTV which was represented by eminent lawyer Harish Salve. Had NDTV India agreed to do so, it would have been the end of the story.
The apology templates which Salve had come up with in that hearing like ”NDTV is a very responsible media organization. We regret the unfortunate incident which occurred”, ”we regret the controversy that led to the incident” were deemed too generic by Rohtagi. The case was then adjourned for 31st March, i.e. today when NDTV was supposed to let the court know if it agreed to the modifications suggested by the govt.
Clearly NDTV India has now refused to make the modifications and hence refused to apologize in this case. This will now lead to the Supreme Court to provide a detailed hearing in the matter after which it will provide its judgement.
This manoeuvre by NDTV is a clear gamble as it can now either win or lose a lot more than it would have had it provided an apology. As the legal correspondent of the IE pointed out, ”NDTV India is in the dock for violating the telecast norms.” If the Supreme Court finds it guilty for the same just like the Inter Ministerial Committee of the I&B Ministry had back in Nov ’16 the government might not be keen on letting the channel off with just a simple apology, provided it shows some spine.
NDTV on the other hand might be hoping that the case drags on for some time due to which it might fade from public memory. Though if it is indeed found innocent there might not be a better scenario as had it agreed to apologize today it would have been a clear admission of guilt.