The Delhi High Court has on Monday issued notice to Aaj Tak, the Press Council of India, and the Centre, seeking their response on a petition filed by the former MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa who alleged that the video reports by the channel on the protests are in fact a ‘concoction of phantom imagination’ bearing no nexus to the facts of the protests.
The petition filed by Manjit Singh G.K., a resident of Delhi and the President of a religious party namely Jagg Asra Guru Ott., alleged misreporting by the channel on the farmers’ protests during Republic Day 2021 and prayed for restraining the fake-news by ‘setting the accountability, of the concerned authorities/departments’ and towards this end asks for framing of necessary guidelines, appropriate laws, and bye-laws, including ‘fixing the appropriate punishment and penalties for violation of the concerned guidelines and laws’.
Further, the plea alleged that “vicious, unmitigated, abhorrent, concocted and reprehensible actions by certain media houses (i.e. Aaj Tak), have unleashed an offensive and potentially fatal communal attack on the ‘Sikh’ community by continuous circulation and constant transmission of unverified videos through different platforms including their respective news channels, YouTube, and other such digital and online platforms, pursuant to the events that unfolded New Delhi on the 72nd Republic Day of India on 26th January 2021.”
“The protestors including the farmer union leaders have been taking due care and caution to ensure that no convenience is caused to the public at large while continuing the protest. However, on the fateful day of 26th January 2021, ‘due to the infiltration of the protests by certain anti-social and ill-motivated elements’ the tractor rally was met by severe and brutal assaults by police authorities which created an opportunity for these anti-social elements to create a ruckus,” read the petition.
The plea submits that subsequent to such events, AAJ TAK on 27th January 2021 showcased a video wherein its correspondent Mr. Arvind Ojha had unequivocally alleged that the protestors were involved in vilification and destruction of the ‘tableaus’ of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand which were featured at Rajpath earlier in the day during the 72nd Republic Day celebrations.
Therefore, the petition highlights the significance of Rule 6 (Programme Code) under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 along with a ‘Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’ issued by the News Broadcasters.