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‘Whoever doesn’t want to watch the show, can go and read a novel, or turn off the TV’: Justice Chandrachud on Sudarshan News ‘UPSC Jihad’ case

Justice Chandrachud also wondered if the Supreme Court should spend the time it is spending on the case if the show is about allegations against the Zakat Foundation.

Hearing a plea that had sought a stay on the Sudarshan News’ ‘UPSC Jihad’ show, the Supreme Court justice Chandrachud remarked today that if the show is putting allegations on Zakat Foundation, people having an issue with it should refrain from watching the show and instead ‘read a novel’, or turn off the TV. 

Justice Chandrachud’s remarks were in response to the prosecution counsel’s assertions that Sudarshan TV Editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke’s statements on the ‘UPSC Jihad’ show amounted to “classic hate speech” and alleged that photographs which can inspire students appear for civil services had been misrepresented by Suresh Chavhanke and the channel to portray them as a part of wider ‘jihadi conspiracy’.

However, Justice Chandrachud retorted back, stating that nobody is forcing people to watch the show and those who are uncomfortable with the telecast can choose to ignore it. Justice Chandrachud also wondered if the Supreme Court should spend the time it is spending on the case if the show is about allegations against the Zakat Foundation.

SC had put a stay on the broadcast of the ‘UPSC Jihad’ show

Earlier, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph had passed an order restraining the telecast of the programme. 

Justices Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra had noted that the pictorial representation of ‘Muslims’ with a beard, donning a green t-shirt, with flames in the background serves to alienate even the good members of the community and defended the injunction order lamenting that in absence of a potent regulatory mechanism, the courts had to step in and prevent the channel from broadcasting controversial content.

However, Sudarshan News filed a plea challenging the stay order from the court on their ‘UPSC Jihad’ programme. The counsel representing the channel argued that the programme shed light on the funding received by the Zakat Foundation that finances civil services coaching. 

The Editor-in-chief had then said that it is in national interest that a debate and discussion is held on source of such funding for organisations like Zakat Foundation. Chavhanke further clarified that in the four-episode series there is no such statement that member of particular community should not join the UPSC.

OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord Foundation file an intervention application in the Sudarshan TV case

Earlier today, OpIndia, Indic Collective and UpWord Foundation had filed an application in SC seeking intervention in the Sudarshan TV case. 

The applicants have moved an intervention application in the matter of Firoz Iqbal Khan v. Union of India concerning permissible free speech which the apex court is seized of in the Writ Petition as also in light of the ad-interim order dated September 15, 2020, passed in the Petition, both of which have implications on the treatment of content under the legal framework in India.

They have raised pertinent questions regarding the jurisdiction of the court to directly restrain content during the pendency of an examination by the appropriate State authority on the legality of the content under applicable laws.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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