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Sudarshan TV: SC Discusses Injunction, 3 Parties Apply to Join Case Based on 'Hate Speech' Report

In a counter-affidavit submitted to the court, the Centre has once again urged for guidelines to regulate digital media.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Monday, September 21, that it will take up the hearing of the plea against the contents of Sudarshan TV’s ‘Bindas Bol’ programme on Wednesday, September 23.

The court had on September 15 restrained the channel from airing its show, a promo of which had claimed that it will unveil a conspiracy by Muslims to “infiltrate” the civil services. Entering the civil services in India involves sitting for competitive examinations which are open to all citizens.

Monday’s arguments largely focused on the nature of the Supreme Court’s injunction, on whether this restraining order is justified and what its wider implications could be.

“Postponement order not a punitive measure but a preventive measure,” LiveLaw quoted advocate Shadan Farasat, who was originally representing three students who had petitioned the Delhi high court, as having said, justifying the restraining order.

Farasat also said that it is crucial to note that situations of genocide arise when the majority feels they are targeted and cited the examples of the Nazis, Rwanda and the Buddhists’ treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain held that his client Sudarshan TV had followed the programme code.

Also read: ‘Let Message Go to Media That a Particular Community Can’t Be Targeted’: SC in Sudarshan TV Hearing

A bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph, hearing the case, had also held that the Zakat Foundation, which has been named by Sudarshan TV as the coaching centre for Muslim UPSC aspirants that has received dubious foreign funding, could pursue a relevant path of redressal if it feels it has been defamed.

“Hate speech is for a targeted group,” said Justice Chandrachud.

The bench had earlier taken a dim view of the portrayal of Muslims in the show and had used previous hearings to say that in the show, “free speech becomes hatred”.

“We have to look after a nation of the future which is cohesive and diverse,” it had said, adding, “Let this message go to the media that the country cannot survive with such agenda.”

Centre asks for digital media guidelines

Meanwhile, in a counter-affidavit submitted to the court, the Centre has alleged that the self-regulatory mechanisms in place for addressing complaints against TV and print media are “effective and ensures impartiality”.

It urged the Supreme Court not to lay down guidelines and “widen the scope of [the] present petition,” LiveLaw has reported.

As it has done before, the Centre has also pushed forward its demand for a check on digital media.

““Apart from spreading venomous hatred, deliberate and intended instigation to not only cause violence but even terrorism it is also capable of indulging in tarnishing the image of individuals and institutions. The said practice is, in fact, rampant,” the Centre said.

3 organisations move court seeking impleadment

On Monday, rightwing website OpIndia, along with the Indic Collective Trust and Upword Foundation, moved Supreme Court seeking impleadment to join the ongoing case against Sudarshan TV over its telecast of the show.

Advocate J. Sai Deepak, who submitted the application, said that OpIndia had prepared a report that could help Supreme Court come to a conclusion on what counts as “hate speech.”

The three parties have alleged that the current case is a one-off instance, reported LiveLaw, and have said that there are apparently nearly “100 instances where Indic faiths and Indic communities have been the subject of “blanket stereotyping, generalization and demonization.”

‘Indic’ is the term the right-wing uses to differentiate religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism from ‘Abrahamic’ religions, i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism.