The Central Government through the Solicitor General of India (SGI) informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it had sent a notice to Sudarshan TV for an apparent violation of Programme Codes prescribed under the ‘The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994’.
SG Tushar Mehta added that the Channel had been asked to respond to the notice by September 28. He, therefore, requested the Court to adjourn the hearing of a plea seeking a permanent injunction against Sudarshan TV’s “UPSC Jihad” which according to the channel was a conspiracy of “infiltration of Muslims” to the Civil Services.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph found it appropriate to adjourn the hearing more so when the request for adjournment did not meet with any opposition from the petitioners. The bench, however, directed the Centre to place before it a report on the action that would follow pursuant to the show cause notice it had issued to the Channel.
“Since the notice has been issued during the pendency of these proceedings, further steps in pursuance of the notice to show cause shall be subject to the result of the present proceedings and to such orders as may be passed by this Court”, the Court said.
The bench also made it clear that till further orders its interim injunction restraining Sudarshan TV from broadcasting the remaining five episodes of the show would continue to remain in force.
It added the notice would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
When counsel for intervenor Madhu Kishwar sought to argue that he would need 15 to 20 minutes to make submissions as some allegations had been made against his client by the petitioner, Justice D Y Chadrachud said the Court could not give 15 minutes of judicial time to the intervenors. Justice Chandrachud suggested the intervenors file a written note of their arguments.
Justice K M Joseph during the hearing of the case on September 21 had wondered if the Central Government had watched the first four episodes of the show, which had been broadcast after it gave permission, and if yes, what action had it taken?
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on September 9 allowed Sudarshan News channel to telecast its show. It, however, directed the channel to ensure that the proposed show did not violate any programme code. It also added 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 Septemebr 15 issued interim injunction against the broadcast of 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”.