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Supreme Court Stays Sudarshan TV “UPSC Jihad” Broadcast

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Today Supreme Court Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph directed Sudarshan TV to defer the broadcast of its programme touted as a ”big expose on the conspiracy” regarding Muslims “infiltrating government service”.

Supreme Court- “The power of the electronic media to target a community, damage reputations or tarnish someone’s image is “huge”

The Supreme Court observed- “problem with the electronic media is all about TRPs”, leading to more and more sensationalism that damages the reputation of people and “masquerades as a form of right”.

Supreme Court also called for the setting up of a committee of five citizens who can come up with standards for electronic media.  

Supreme Court addressing Sudarshan TV Advocate “Your client is doing a disservice to the nation and is not accepting India is a melting point of diverse culture. Your client needs to exercise his freedom with caution.”

Justice KM Joseph suggested: “We need to look at the ownership of the visual media. Entire shareholding pattern of the company must be on site for public. The revenue model of that company should also be put up to check if the government is putting more advertisements in one and less in another.”

The top court had earlier declined to stay the telecast but agreed to examine the larger issue of balancing of free speech, with other constitutional values, including the fundamental right to equality and fair treatment for every segment of citizens.  

The Court also called for the setting up of a committee of five citizens who can come up with standards for electronic media.

Justice Joseph Said “We need to look at the ownership of the visual media. Entire shareholding pattern of the company must be on site for public. Revenue model of that company should also be put up to check if government is putting more ads in one and less in another.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta Submitted – “Freedom of the journalist is supreme. There are two aspects of the statements by Justice Joseph. It would be disastrous for any democracy to control the press”.

Supreme Court – “When we talk about journalistic freedom, it is not absolute. He shares same freedom as other citizens. There is no separate freedom for journalists like in the US. We need journalists who are fair in their debates.”

Justice Chandrachud then said, “Let the best within the nation suggest measures which we can help debate on our platform and then arrive at standards…now an anchor is targeting one particular community. To say we are a democracy we need to have certain standards in place.”

After watching the clip, the Court directed Sudarshan TV to defer the broadcast of its remaining episodes till September 17, when the matter will be heard next date.

Divan strongly submitted to the court and said, “There cannot be a pre-broadcast ban. We already have four broadcasts so we know the theme. If this is a prior restraint order, then I have to argue. There is a clear link on funds from abroad.”  

Justice Chandrachud asked SG Mehta whether the Union Ministry for Information & Broadcasting had applied its mind while allowing the episodes released on September 11 and 14, after giving the green signal for the airing of the programme on September 9.    

Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters Association, and Sudarshan News.

The promo of the show shared by the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke, with hashtag ‘UPSC Jihad’, had started trending on several social media platform. Delhi High Court had also issued notice in a petition challenging the Central government’s decision to allow the Sudarshan TV broadcast.