“What is the business of the TV channel to discuss a matter which is sub-judice, except to promote an agenda?” the Supreme Court asked Nupur Sharma’s counsel.

Navika Kumar and Nupur Sharma
news Court Friday, July 01, 2022 - 12:43

The Supreme Court criticised English TV news channel Times Now for its debate anchored by the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Navika Kumar on Gyanvapi mosque, during which suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma had made her controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammed. Justice Surya Kant — who was part of the bench hearing a petition filed by the former BJP spokesperson asking to combine all the FIRs against her, regarding her comment on Prophet Mohammed — asked why the channel had to debate a matter that was sub-judice. “What is the business of the TV channel to discuss a matter which is sub-judice, except to promote an agenda?” the Supreme Court asked Nupur Sharma’s counsel. According to the legal website Bar and Bench, the judge added, “Don't make us open our mouths? What was the TV debate for? Only fan an agenda?”

When Nupur Sharma’s counsel said that Nupur’s comments on Islam and the Prophet was only in response to a fellow panellist and anchor Navika Kumar, the Supreme Court said there should have been a case against the debate host as well. “If there is a misuse of the debate, the first thing she should have done was to file an FIR against the anchor,” Justice Surya Kant, who was part of the vacation bench with Justice Pardiwala, said.

When Nupur’s counsel cited the case of Arnab Goswami, where multiple FIRs filed against him were clubbed, the Supreme Court said that the case of a journalist expressing their rights on a particular issue is different from a political party spokesperson “who is lambasting others with irresponsible statements without thinking of the consequences.”

“The freedom of a journalist cannot be equated to that of a political spokesperson who is making statements on television and ignites emotions across the country,” the apex court said.

Refusing to give Nupur Sharma any relief, the Supreme Court said, “The way she has ignited emotions across the country, this lady is single handedly responsible for what is happening in the country.”

When informed that Nupur had withdrawn her remarks, the Supreme Court said, “She should have gone on TV and apologised to the whole nation.” The Supreme Court observed that Nupur was not a ‘religious person’ but made these remarks to provoke. “Her remarks show her obstinate and arrogant character,” the Supreme Court remarked.

A few days after the debate, the Editors Guild of India had criticised and cautioned news channels. “The incident that caused unnecessary embarrassment to the country could have been avoided if some of the TV outlets had been mindful of the nation’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as the journalistic ethics and guidelines that the Press Council of India has issued to handle a volatile situation. Instead, some of these channels prompted by the desire to increase viewership and profit were seemingly inspired by the values of Radio Rwanda whose incendiary broadcast caused a genocide in the African nation. These channels pause and take a critical look at what they have done by giving legitimacy to divisive and toxic voices that have made the national discourse coarse and the gap between communities unbridgeable.”

Also read: Nupur Sharma ‘single handedly responsible for what’s happening in India’, says SC

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