Supreme Court Prohibits Telecast of Bindas Bol on Sudarshan News Till 17th September

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The Supreme Court, on 15th September, passed an injunction prohibiting Sudarshan News from telecasting its show ‘Bindaas Bol’. The Bench observed that based on the aired episodes, the content, tenor, and object of the show seemed to entail hate speech.

Brief Facts of the Case

The present petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution. It prayed for urgent directions prohibiting the telecast of ‘Bindaas Bol’ on Sudarshan news. It relied on a transcript of a 49-second promotion clip of the show. The petition contended that the statements contained in the transcript are derogatory of the entry of Muslims in the civil services. The Court on 28th August had declined to issue a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction stating that the transcript is unverified and the court needs to be circumspect in imposing such restrictions.

This matter was heard again on 15th September.

Arguments

The Petitioners contended that the content of the episodes formed hate speech against the Muslim Community. Further, they argued that the telecast vilifies the community by portraying it to be involved in an act of terror in infiltrating the civil services of India.

They added that the circumstances have changed since the earlier hearing. In the course of the telecast, false statements have been made in connection with the Muslim Community and civil services. They state that Muslims have a greater upper age limit and are allowed more attempts in comparison to Hindus. 

The Petitioners call it an orchestrated attempt to target the Muslim Community as being involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services. 

Further, the Fifth Respondent has placed promotional videos in the public realm on their Twitter handle. This invited the response to a large number of persons, that bordered on hatred towards the Muslim community.

The Respondent argued that the Fifth Respondent has embarked on an investigative exercise. This is a part of the fundamental duty of a journalist to convey information to the public. The programs raise issues about national security. It has been submitted that the contents of the programs state the involvement of foreign funding.

On these grounds, they urged this Court to decline the request of the Petitioners to grant an interim injunction particularly having regard to the earlier order passed by this Court.

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that prima facie it does appear to the Court that the intent, object, and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community. It added that this is an insidious attempt to insinuate that the community is involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services. Several statements in the episodes, which have been drawn to the attention of the Court are not erroneous but were made in wanton disregard of the truth. There is no relaxation either in the age limit or in the number of attempts available to the Muslim community in the civil services. The drift, tenor, and content of the episodes are to bring the community into public hatred and disrepute.

The Court is to ensure compliance with the Programme Code. Rule 6(1)(c) of the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules stipulates that no program containing an attack on religion or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes should be allowed. Rule 6(1)(d) prohibits defamatory, false material, or material containing half-truths or suggestive innuendoes. A breach of the Code invites sanctions under Section 19 and 20 of the Regulation Act of 1995.

The Court took notice of the change in circumstances and on this basis, the episodes have been aired. It is thus necessary to interdict any further telecast.

Court’s Order 

SC listed the matter on the broadcast of ‘Bindas Bol’ on Sudarshan TV on September 17. The Court prohibited the further airing of episodes during the pendency of the case.


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