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Banning broadcast of Sudarshan News content not under SC jurisdiction, OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord intervention contends in Court

When Justice Chandrachud sought to confirm whether the contention was that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over the matter, J Sai Deepak confirmed that indeed it was.

OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord have filed an intervention application in the Sudarshan News ‘UPSC Jihad’ case. A report titled “A Study on Contemporary Standards in Religious Reporting by Mass Media”, prepared by OpIndia was submitted in the Court. The matter was heard in the Court today. J Sai Deepak, representing the petitioners, said that there are three issues that have been submitted.

First, whether Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the matter. When Justice Chandrachud sought to confirm whether the contention was that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over the matter, J Sai Deepak confirmed that indeed it was. The plea contends whether any statute or the Constitution itself permit Courts to step into the shoes of the State to restrain the broadcast of such content.

Second, the definition of hate speech. And third, the OpIndia report which tracks the contemporary landscape on the standards set by mass media in religious reporting. On being enquired about the report, Sai Deepak contended that “the episodes of Sudarshan News TV must be assessed in light of the contemporary standards of religious reportage observed by mainstream media, instead of being examined in isolation”.

Justice Chandrachud said that all intervenors including the OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord will be heard after the parties have been heard. It has also been indicated that petitioners and intervenors in support of the core petition concerned will be heard first and then it will be followed by the Solicitor General, J Sai Deepak, Mukul Rohatgi and others on the other side.

While arguments were being made, J Sai Deepak quipped that the judges “will also want to consider that there is a question of chilling effect of an order and what example does it state for future orders though it may be only for this series”. nJustice Chandrachud responded, “We agree with you. We are concerned about balance between speech and dignity. Here the community is a large amorphous group and we can’t ask them to approach civil remedy.”

The matter will be taken up next on the 23rd of September at 2 pm. You can read the full intervention application filed by OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord and the OpIndia report attached at the end here.

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