Hate Speech vs Free Speech: SC gives two weeks to Sudarshan TV to respond to Centre’s affidavit

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The Supreme Court on Thursday gave two weeks to Sudarshan TV and others to respond to the Centre’s affidavit that indicted the channel for violating Programme Code.

A Bench, led by Justice DY Chandrachud, asked Sudarshan TV and the petitioner to file their responses and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

The Centre has indicted Sudarshan TV for violation of Programme Code and cautioned it for telecasting ‘UPSC Jihad’ saying it was not in “good taste” and “offensive”.

However, it allowed the channel to telecast the remaining episodes of the controversial programme after suitable modification and moderation.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry noted that the episodes telecast by the channel have the “likelihood of promoting communal attitudes”.

“If any violation of the Programme Code is found in future, stricter penal action would be taken,” the Ministry said, asking the channel to file a compliance report forthwith before the telecast of the remaining episodes.

Cautioning the channel, the I&B Ministry said, “The channel should review the contents of the future episodes of the programme ‘Bindas Bol – UPSC Jihad, and the audio-visual content should be suitably moderated and modified, so as to ensure that there is no violation of the Programme Code…”

The Supreme Court had on September 23 deferred hearing on a petition seeking a ban on Sudarshan News’ controversial programme ‘UPSC Jihad’ after the Centre said it has issued a show-cause notice to the TV channel.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud that in the exercise of the power conferred upon it under the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 the Central Government has issued a show-cause notice to Sudarshan News.

The Bench had, however, made it clear that the notice shall be dealt with under law and its order restraining Sudarshan News from telecasting further episodes of its controversial programme shall continue. The programme had alleged Muslims were “infiltrating” civil services in a planned manner.

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