The Supreme Court on Friday refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on Sudarshan TV from telecasting ‘Bindas Bol’ programme. The news programme, which was scheduled to be telecast on Friday, was all set to report on the alleged infiltration of Muslims in the civil services, however, hours later, the High Court decided to impose a ban on the telecast of the show while hearing a separate petition.
According to senior journalist Utkarsh Anand, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph, refusing to stay the TV show, said it has to be careful in imposing such prior restraint on publication or the airing of views.
“At this stage, we have desisted from imposing a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction on the basis of an unverified transcript of a forty-nine seconds clip. The Court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views,” the bench said.
Hours before #Delhi High Court stayed the @SudarshanNewsTV programme on entry of Muslims in civil services, #SupremeCourt had refused to grant a pre-broadcast ban order. SC was hearing a separate plea by a lawyer. @SureshChavhanke #SudarshanNews pic.twitter.com/s0srAeQaQt— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) August 28, 2020
Interestingly, the order from the Supreme Court came just hours before Delhi High Court stayed the program on Sudarshan News that was scheduled to be aired on Friday. However, despite the Supreme Court’s order, Delhi High Court had imposed a stay on the telecast of the show.
The court also noted, “We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities”.
The plea against Sudarshan TV in the Supreme Court was filed by an advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan. In his plea, the petitioners had raised objections over the show, saying that show was derogatory to a particular community and had a divisive potential. In the High Court, the petition was filed by Jamia Millia Islamia students.
Supreme Court issues notice to respondents, to appoint amicus curiae
Hearing the petition, the Supreme Court issued notice to Centre, Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News.
The Supreme Court also said that prima facie, the petition raises significant issues bearing on the protection of constitutional rights. The bench also said that it will consider appointing amicus curiae to assist it towards achieving a resolution that protects constitutional rights.
“Consistent with the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the Court will need to foster a considered debate on the setting up of standards of self-regulation,” the apex court said.
The petition seeking a ban on Sudarshan TV show came after its editor Suresh Chavhanke had tweeted a trailer of his upcoming show, in which he had said to expose on the infiltration of Muslims’ in the Civil Services. In the video, Suresh Chavhanke had allegedly referred to those passing out of Jamia’s Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) and clearing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as “Jamia ke Jihadi”.
Delhi High Court stays the broadcast of the show
On Friday, the Delhi High Court had imposed a stay on the broadcast of the Sudarshan TV show ‘Bindas Bol’ after a petition was filed by Jamia Millia Islamia students. The petitioners in the Delhi High Court had alleged that the program may incite hatred against Muslims.
The stay order stopping the broadcast of the show was passed by Justice Navin Chavla after an urgent hearing. The petition was filed by advocate Shadan Farasat on behalf of current and former students of Jamia.
However, Sudarshan News chief editor Suresh Chavhanke had then taken to Twitter to inform that the channel will be sticking to the schedule and the said program on UPSC Jihad will be aired at 8 pm on Friday.
Sudarshan TV programme on infiltration of Muslims into bureaucracy
The controversy erupted yesterday after Sudarshan News chief editor Suresh Chavhanke shared a snippet of its upcoming program scheduled to be aired tonight at 8 PM.
He had announced that it will be the channel’s big campaign against the ‘bureaucracy jihad’ and ‘UPSC Jihad’ and had warned in the video saying ‘imagine jihadis from Jamia becoming your district commissioner and secretaries in every ministry’.
After the controversial video was posted, it attacked criticism from various sides, notably from left-liberals and Islamists. It was alleged that Suresh Chavhanke is spreading hate against Muslims, and leftist portals started publishing articles criticising him and his channel. Soon, Muslim activists started filing cases against the editor and the channel at various places across the country.