The hugely controversial programme of private channel Sudarshan News TV — which showed episodes on “Muslims infiltrating” government services — prima facie violated programme code and a showcause notice has been issued to them, the Centre told the Supreme Court today. The channel has to respond on the issue — which comes amid sharp scrutiny of media following the no-holds-barred coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput case by some channels — by September 28. “The notice is a detailed one, giving facts which are against the program code,” the Centre told the top court.
The controversial programme was aired with government approval just a fortnight ago.
Sources told NDTV that the government can’t pre-censor shows. The channel had also assured the government that they would not violate rules. It takes time to watch and transcribe television shows, the sources added on being asked about the government notice to the show, which was sent today.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry’s guidelines of Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 says no programme should be carried which “contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes”.
The content of the particular programme of Sudarshan TV had infuriated the Supreme Court, which in a hearing last week had called the show an attempt to vilify Muslims.
“You cannot target one community and brand them in a particular manner,” the top court said, put a temporary stop to the show “Bindas Bol”, which has seven of its nine episodes left to air.
The programme also puts a question mark on the Union Public Services Commission, which is in charge of prestigious competitive exams to enter the higher echelons of government services.
“The anchor’s grievance is that a particular group is gaining entry into the civil services,” said Justice DY Chandrachud. “How insidious is this? Such insidious charges put a question mark on UPSC exams, cast aspersion on UPSC. Such allegations without factual basis, how can this be allowed? Can such programmes be allowed in a free society,” he said.
Today, the court directed the Centre to deal with its notice to Sudarshan News TV as per law and decide. The court also asked the Centre to file a report on its decision on the channel.
In response to the Centre’s plea that the hearing be deferred till the channel responds, the court said it would hear the matter again on October 5. The freeze on the programme will continue.