The Supreme Court heard a plea praying for directions for the prohibition of dissemination of COVID-19 information based on religion, caste, etc. The Court refused to allow the same.
The plea was filed by an Advocate Md. Irshad Hanif. Representing the petitioner Advocate Miriam Fozia Rahman argued that this plea is to protect the right to dignity and honour. She said that disease does not see gender.
The petitioner’s plea states that this outbreak and the resulting medical and public health emergency has caused distress, anxiety, and social stigma. This then escalates and might exaggerate to prejudice against a particular class of people or community. This amounts to them being targeted for spreading this contagious Coronavirus.
Then the plea highlights the Tablighi Jamat incidents. The petitioner submits that the media houses didn’t exercise any restraint while reporting the incident. They added a communal colour to it. They employed the use of terms like Corona Jihad, Corona Terrorism, Islamic Insurrection, Corona Bomb, and the likes. Hence, added the petitioner that it is clear how the media houses used this incident to blame and demonize the entire Muslim community.
The plea alleges that this incident was a result of attempts by the Central Government to distract the general public from the policy failures.
Additionally, this led to the circulation of several fake news and videos putting the Muslim community in a bad light. This resulted in the vilification of all Muslims based on their religious identity.
The petitioner is submitted that such reporting has triggered communal antagonism and has also perpetrated hate and resulted in fissiparous tendencies gaining a foothold and affected the communal harmony.
In light of the instances highlighted in the petition, the petitioner requests the Court to order or direct the Government to issue some directions that might curb the communal reporting of COVID-19 related news. The petitioner states that the reporting should not be based on caste, religion, community, etc.
The Supreme Court heard this plea on 25th September 2020. The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R Subhash Reddy, and Justice MR Shah dismissed the plea.
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