Centre says Sudarshan TV’s UPSC Jihad likely to promote “communal attitude”; tells it to suitably modify the show or face the action

The Central Government has found the episodes of ‘UPSC Jihad’ shown by Sudarshan TV not in good taste, and offensive, with a likelihood of promoting communal attitudes.

The order issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 said that the tone and tenor of the episodes telecast do indicate that the channel had breached the Programme Code.

The order went on to find that the manner in which Sudarshan TV had gone about the exposition of its show ‘USPC Jihad’, including its comments on the selection process civil services, portrayed one community and the UPSC in a poor light.

Ministry also said that the issue of alleged terror links of Zakat Foundation and the alleged source of funding is a highly disputed matter of fact, which require a full investigation of evidence to adjudicate the veracity, truthfulness or falsity of the claim made in the show of Sudarshan TV.

It, thus, issued a note of caution to the Sudarshan TV and warned it of strict penal action if any violation of programme code was found.

In so far as the telecast of remaining episodes is concerned, the Centre directed the channel to suitably modify the remaining episodes, refraining from attacking a religion/religious community.

The Centre’s decision is subject to the outcome of the hearing scheduled tomorrow in the Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on October 26 informed the Court that the Inter-Ministerial Committee had given its recommendations in respect of the programmes which are yet to be telecast by the news station and as such the Government was in the process of issuing another notice to Sudarshan TV calling for its reply. The Court had then adjourned the hearing.

Earlier the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on September 9 allowed the news channel to telecast its show.  but directed the channel to ensure that it did not violate any programme code. It also added that action would be taken as per the law if any violation was found.

By the time, SC took up the matter for hearing on September 15 after issuing notice in the matter, and initially refusing prior restraint against the show on August 28, the channel had broadcast four of the nine episodes of the show in the meantime between September 9 to 14.

The apex court on September 15 issued an interim injunction against the broadcast of the remaining episodes of Sudarshan TV’s “UPSC Jihad” show.

It had observed “an insidious attempt has been made 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 just palpably erroneous but have been made in wanton disregard of the truth”. 

It added “India is a melting pot of civilizations, cultures, religions and languages. Any attempt to vilify a religious community must be viewed with grave disfavour by this Court as the custodian of constitutional values. Its duty to enforce constitutional values demands nothing less”.