The Centre Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it had served a showcause notice to Sudarshan TV over its “UPSC Jihad” programme that claims to expose a “conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service”. The Centre said the show prima facie violated programme code and Sudarshan TV has been asked to submit a reply by September 28.
“The notice is a detailed one, giving facts which are against the program code,” the Centre told the top court. Next hearing on the matter is scheduled on October 5.
During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the four page notice to the channel has sought an explanation on various points regarding violation of the programme code and why action should not be taken against it. The detailed notice under Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 has been issued today itself, showing facts that are, according to the government, prima facie not in accordance with the programme code, he said.
The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph, had on September 15 stayed the telecast of remaining episodes of Sudarshan TV’s show “UPSC Jihad”, saying “prima facie, it appears…the object, intent and purpose of the programme is to vilify the Muslim community”. The channel’s editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke has urged the court to lift the stay.
The court had said that some images in the show were “hurtful” and “offensive” and sought to know what changes he would make to assuage concerns.
Replying to this, Chavhanke filed an additional affidavit stating that he would “strictly comply with all laws while airing the remaining episodes”, and will “abide and comply by the programming code and directions” of the I&B Ministry.
On Monday, the Centre had filed an affidavit in the top court, urging it to not widen the scope of the matter by laying down any further guidelines for print and electronic media as they are already regulated.
The Centre’s response had come after the top court took strong objection to the content of the Sudarshan TV programme ‘Bindas Bol’, observing that “a particular community cannot be targeted” in the name of investigative journalism and that the “country cannot survive with such an agenda”.
Referring to contentions in the petition, Justice Chandrachud had said the program shows flames in the background of a clip showing speeches and characters in skull cap, beards and green T-shirts.
“Questions are asked why IAS and IPS Association does not act when (AIMIM MP Asaduddin) Owaisi asks Muslims to join civil services and flames are shown in background…there are remarks like haramkhor…. Charts are shown about increasing number of Muslims in civil service and there are pictorial representations,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
Justice Malhotra said she also felt that the flames in the background and the green T-shirts were “offensive” and “can be taken off”. “Some of these pictorials are very hurtful to us. So they should be taken down,” Justice Malhotra said.
Justice Joseph said that in one episode, a member of audience is interviewed and he says Muslims are getting OBC reservation and should not get more. “What message are you sending? Bottom line is you are maligning a whole community.”