New Delhi: In its response to the show-cause notice issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Sudarshan News defended the ‘Bindas Bol’ show which accused Muslims of ‘infiltrating’ the civil services.
According to The Print, the channel sent a 950 page response in which it claimed that attempts are being made to project a “nationalist channel” as “anti-national and anti-constitutional”. Its editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke told the website that the channel stood by its show.
The Supreme Court restrained the channel from airing the remaining episodes of the show on September 15. The court was informed by the Centre on September 23 that the MIB had issued a show-cause notice to the channel, finding it prima facie in violation of the Programme and Advertising Codes. The court adjourned its hearing of the matter until October 5, giving the MIB time to take action against the channel, if it so deems fit. The channel was given time until Monday to respond.
According to The Print, the MIB’s notice raised 13 points mentioned in various episodes of the show which were in apparent violation of the Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under Cable TV Network Rules, 1994. Rule 6 (c) of the code states that programmes which attack a religion or community or “visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes” should not be aired.
Apart from defending itself as a “nationalist channel”, Sudarshan News also claimed that the MIB has a “responsibility to protect media freedom”. It said guests and panellists who were invited on to the channel are receiving threats and the channel is incurring crores in losses.
“Will the I&B Ministry give permissions and punishments or will it also take a step forward to protect us? The responsibility to protect media freedom lies with the government too,” it said in its cover letter.
In an apparent reference to the foreign funding received by Zakat Foundation, which provides free coaching to underprivileged Muslim students, the channel claimed its “investigative reporting” would have made the “biggest revelation” on the danger to the country’s security, if not for the legal battle which prevented the channel from airing the remaining episodes.
Syed Zafar Mahmood, Zakat Foundation’s head, told The Wire that there is no basis to allegations of financial wrongdoing against his foundation. He said Zakat has fulfilled all the fairness rules prescribed by the home ministry, in addition to adhering to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and income tax laws.