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SC halts TV show ‘vilifying’ minorities

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NEW DELHI: Stopping further telecast of a TV programme allegedly insinuating that Muslims were attempting to infiltrate the civil services, the

Supreme Court

said as the highest court of the land, it could not allow such “insidious” comments in the name of freedom of the press to vilify a particular community to disturb harmony in a country that has been a “melting pot of cultures”.

“The edifice of a democratic society committed to the rule of law under a regime of constitutional rights, values and duties is founded on the co-existence of communities. India is a melting pot of civilisations, 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,” a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud,

Indu Malhotra

and

K M Joseph

said.

On a PIL seeking to stop telecast of a serialised programme ‘

Bindas Bol

’ on

Sudarshan TV

, which has already telecast four out of 10 parts of the “investigative documentary”, the bench made no secret of its deep distress over the content of the programme and said, “When you say students of Jamia are part of the conspiracy to infiltrate civil services, that is not permissible. You cannot target one community and brand them in a particular way, that too on factually wrong facts. As

the Supreme Court of India

, we cannot allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating the civil services. It is a slur on the UPSC also. While doing so, you cannot say that journalistic freedom is absolute.”

The bench also asked about the necessity for self-regulation of content on electronic media. It stopped further telecast till September 17, when it will resume hearing on the PIL. It asked the parties to file their responses to the petition as well as issues raised by the court on putting in place a self-regulating regime for electronic media.

“The problem with electronic media is about their race for TRPs. In doing so, they do not bother about damage caused to the reputation of others,” the bench said.

The bench’s comment came in the backdrop of

TV channels

, over the last few months, going berserk in their coverage of cases relating to the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, alleged involvement of Rhea Chakraborty, Kangana Ranaut’s outbursts and demolition of alleged illegal construction in her Mumbai office.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta recounted a TV channel running a ‘Hindu Terror” programme continuously for some days and availability of numerous videos on websites and YouTube vilifying one community or the other. He said it would be difficult to rein in the media in this age and time. There was a web video programme which indulged in scaremongering by airing programmes about alleged food scarcity and food riots immediately after the first pandemic lockdown, leading to massive migration of workers, he said. “That was no less serious than hate speech,” he added.

“Regulating media is both disastrous and damaging to democracy,” Mehta said and informed the court that the government had issued a notice to Sudarshan TV to ensure that the contents of the impugned programme conformed to the programme code under the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules. The SC asked him to file what steps were taken by the government after the first four of the 10-part programme was aired on the channel.

Appearing for the channel, senior advocate Shyam Divan said the programme was not about vilifying a community but an investigative journalistic activity. The programme was about huge foreign funding from sources inimical to India, he said and requested the court not to form an opinion by watching snippets from here and there. He said it would be an affront to the sanctity of journalistic freedom if the court stopped telecast of the programme without watching all its 10 parts.

The bench said, “At this stage, prima facie, it does appear to the court that the intent, object and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community. 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. There is no relaxation either in the age limit or in the number of attempts available to the Muslim community in the civil services. The drift, tenor and content of the episodes is to bring the community into public hatred and disrepute.”

The bench, which had refused to stop telecast of ‘Bindas Bol’ on August 28, said it was changing its mind as now it had prima facie knowledge about the nature of the programme. “The remaining episodes admittedly will be in the same vein. On the basis of what has been aired, we are of the view that it will be necessary to interdict any further telecast,” it ordered and restrained the channel from airing the same content in any other name.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Encounter underway between terrorists and security forces in J&K’s Pulwama

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SRINAGAR: An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, police said.

Acting on specific information about the presence of terrorists in the Samboora area of Awantipora in the south Kashmir district, security forces launched a cordon and search operation there, a police official said.

He said as the forces were conducting the searches in the area, the militants fired upon them. The security forces retaliated, ensuing an encounter, the official added.

The exchange of firing is going on and further details are awaited, he said.

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INDIA

Sharad Pawar meets Maharashtra CM a day after Fadnavis-Raut meeting

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MUMBAI: NCP president Sharad Pawar met Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray here on Sunday.

The meeting took place a day after former state chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut here, sparking speculation in political circles.

Pawar met Thackeray at the latter’s official residence and the meeting lasted for about 40 minutes, sources said.

What transpired during the meeting could not be known immediately.

Sources, however, said the future unlocking process and the Covid-19 situation in the state were some of the issues that were discussed during the meeting.

Fadnavis and Raut had met at a hotel in Mumbai on Saturday. Although their meeting triggered speculation, Fadnavis on Sunday asserted that the BJP has no intention of joining hands with the Shiv Sena or to bring down the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government.

Fadnavis also said the meeting was regarding an interview for Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana‘.

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INDIA

Northeastern culture is the jewel of Indian culture: Amit Shah

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NEW DELHI: Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday said that northeastern culture is the jewel of Indian culture and without northeast, India and Indian culture are incomplete.

“Without the northeast, India and Indian culture are incomplete. Indian culture can’t be completely imagined until the northeastern culture meets that of India because the northeastern culture is the jewel of Indian culture,” home minister said while inaugurating Destination North East 2020 fest via video conferencing.

Shah said that the Modi government is committed to the development of northeastern states.

“Various pending issues were resolved by the Modi government. Manipur blockade, Bangladesh land boundary agreement, Bru agreement, Bodo agreement, the surrender of 644 cadres of eight extreme groups with their weapons are some of the examples of the work done by the Modi government. This can only be done when the government understands their problems and tries to solve them. The Modi government is committed to the development of northeastern states,” he said.

“As Home Minister I would like to tell all CMs and people of northeast that remaining problems will be resolved before 2024. We want to make northeast a hub of IT, organic farming and education. I hope, we will work together for the better future of the states and its people,” he added.

Chief ministers of the northeast states joined the inauguration event via video conferencing.

Destination North East, a four-day virtual event, started from today. Owing to the current situation, the festival is being held virtually, making it accessible to everyone who’s interested in being a part of the merriment.

The event is being attended by prominent personalities of various states who have excelled in their fields. The event will take place between September 27 and September 30.

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