Following the Sudarshan TV show on the recent run Tanishq advertisement which has invited a lot of support as well as condemnation, a PIL has been moved before Delhi High Court to regulate the news channels over broadcast and publishing of content that incites public disharmony and communal hatred.
Inferring from the Tata jewelry advertisement, the petitioner stated that its purpose was to showcase the unity and brotherhood amongst the two religious groups.
The petitioner alleged that Sudarshan TV through its October 12 “Bindas Bol” episode, made their best attempts to incite hatred amongst the two religious groups and also called it “advertisement jihad”.
Taking cognizance of the criticism over social media, the company withdrew the advertisement.
The plea filed by Advocate Ashgar Khan states, “Programme Code under the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules stipulate that no programme should be carried which contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.”
Khan also stated in the plea that This programme (of Sudarshan TV) violates the Programme Code enumerated under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, together with the Code of Ethics and News Broadcasting Standards Regulations.
“The expression of views derogatory to a particular community has a divisive potential, together with free speech, there are other values which need to be balanced and preserved,” the plea said.
The petitioner has arrayed Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association, and Sudarshan News as respondent parties.
The plea has sought the directions to the authorities to formulate the proper guidelines to include the restrictions under Article 19 of the constitution and has also sought the SC directions to make sure that freedom of speech and expression is not compromised by the Indian media.
The petition has also sought the apex court directions to the authorities to formulate a proper mechanism to keep a check on the content and advertisement that are spreading communal hatred and disharmony.
The petitioner has also sought the court directions to declare the derogatory remarks made by Sudarshan TV violative of Article 14 (Equality before Law), Article 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech), and Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) of the Constitution of India.
Advocate Khan has also requested the court to impose a gag order to restrain the author or orator of the channel from giving any speech in context to religion till the disposal of criminal proceedings ongoing against him.