Centre says ‘UPSC jihad’ show breaches programme code, but only cautions Sudarshan TV

In an affidavit filed in the SC, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that the show is not in “good taste, offensive and has a likelihood of promoting communal attitude.”.
Suresh Chavhanke
Suresh Chavhanke
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The Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Sudarshan TV, through four episodes of its "Bindas Bol" programme on alleged infiltration of Muslims in the bureaucracy, has breached the programme code and it has cautioned the channel of "stricter penal action" in case of future violations. This show spoke about 'UPSC jihad', alleged a “conspiracy” in the “overwhelming” number of Muslim candidates clearing the Union Public Service Commission exams. The show is hosted by Sudarshan TV's editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke. 

In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has placed on record the November 4 order passed by it in the proceedings pertaining to the show-cause notice issued to the channel over the controversial programme.

"After taking into consideration the written and oral submissions of the channel and the findings and recommendations of the IMC, the ministry is of the opinion that while freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right, the tone and tenor of the episodes telecast do indicate that the channel has, through the various utterances and audio-visual content, breached the programme code. The ministry finds that they are not in good taste, offensive and has a likelihood of promoting communal attitude," the affidavit said.

It further said the ministry has examined the four episodes, including the 13 video clips mentioned in the show-cause notice issued on September 23 to the channel.

"The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, after examining all facts and circumstances of the case and balancing the fundamental rights of the broadcasters, hereby 'cautions' Sudarshan TV Channel Ltd to be careful in future. It is further directed that if any violation of the programme code is found in future, stricter penal action would be taken," it said. The ministry said the telecast of the remaining episodes of the programme would be subject to the order of the apex court in the pending matter.

Earlier in September, the court had said, "how rabid is this programme that one community is entering into civil services,” and spoke about how it insinuated that Muslims have infiltrated the services. 

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud is scheduled to hear on Thursday the pleas that have raised objections on the "Bindas Bol" programme of Sudarshan TV.

The apex court had earlier imposed a pre-telecast ban on the remaining episodes of the programme.

On September 23, the Centre had informed the top court that it has prima facie found violations of the programme code by Sudarshan TV's "Bindas Bol" show and has issued a show-cause notice to the channel.

Earlier, the top court had questioned Sudarshan TV officials over the programme, asking whether the media can be allowed to "target a whole set of communities".

It had asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) to give suggestions for strengthening the "self-regulating mechanism" of the NBA for electronic media.

With PTI inputs

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