Supreme Court stays telecast of show on UPSC exam that tries to vilify particular community

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the telecast of the remaining episodes of a TV channel’s programme which claimed to expose the ‘infiltration of a particular community’ in Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), till further orders.

A two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice DY Chandrahud, ordered the stay after hearing submissions on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Firoz Iqbal Khan against the telecast of the programme and slated it for further hearing on Thursday. “Here is one anchor who says one particular community is trying to infiltrate UPSC. Can anything be more insidious (than such claims). Such allegations affect the stability of the country and also cast aspersions on the credibility of the UPSC exam,” Justice Chandrachud remarked.

Senior lawyer Anoop George Chaudhari, appearing for the petitioner, said this is a prima facie case of violation of law adding that the Delhi High Court had earlier issued a notice after hearing the plea challenging the go-ahead given by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.

“If you read and hear the transcript, you will see that they say Muslims are infiltrating the civil services. They say how Muslim, OBCs are eating the share of other OBCs,” Chaudhari said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that so far as pre-publication restraint is concerned, there is a law laid down in some case way back in 1891. The bench said that it needs to look at the ownership of the visual media.

“Most of the electronic media and channels are based on TRP and revenue model, so many things may be seen to be beamed on the name of popularity,” Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the judges in the bench, observed.

Advocate Sadan Farasat, the lawyer for one of the parties, submitted that it is a clear vilification of the Muslim community. “Hate speech is what? It demeans one’s individuals dignity and respect. It is demeaning one`s dignity,” Farasat said.

Accusing the channel of targeting a particular community, he said that the show starts with ISIS face shots and added that this is nothing but hate speech and communalising something, which is not communal.”The show basically means all Muslims coming to the UPSC are Jihadis. This is incorrect. This may be done under the guise of investigative journalism,” Farasat said.

Senior lawyer Shyam Diwan, appearing for the channel, said that this is a case of foreign funding and “we have evidence to show that”.

Diwan further said that the petitioner, who is a lawyer, has instituted this petition and claimed that the show is an insult to a particular community. “The airing of the show is a violation of Cable TV Act, the petitioner has alleged,” Diwan argued.

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.

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