The Delhi High Court has restrained Sony TV channel from broadcasting an episode of Crime Patrol based on a teachers' recruitment scam involving former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and 54 others. This is the second time in two months that the programme had to cancel its episode after intervention. Earlier, the I&B ministry asked Sony not to air an episode based on the infamous Delhi gangrape case.
Crime Patrol is a reality-based TV show that recreates a real criminal act to explore its intricacies.
Television fraternity reacts
The tabloid further quoted producer Manish Goswami, Siddhant Cinevision as saying, "I'm shocked at the political interference in our freedom of expression. The TV industry has a body called Indian Broadcasting Federation where we have a clear list of do's and don’ts in accordance with the government’s regulations. It seems that the politicians are unable to stop the newspapers and news channels and have decided to turn against us.”
Asked whether such intervention amounted to curbing of the freedom of the media, I&B Minister Manish Tiwari told Mumbai Mirror,"The recent case of Crime Patrol is a Court directive. Who am I to comment on it?”
TV producer JD Majethia said, best known for Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, was quoted by the tabloid as saying, "Most TV shows, including Crime Patrol, run promos at least two weeks in advance. If anybody has an objection, a committee should be set up to preview the content in advance. Steps should be taken to control the collapse of the system, not the portrayal of it. Why are you treating the symptoms of the disease when you can treat its cause?”
Meanwhile, writer-director of the concerned show Crime Patrol, Subbu, claims that there is a bias against general entertainment channels that deal with real issues, as opposed to news channels, Mumbai Mirror said. The daily quoted him as saying. “On one hand, the entertainment media is told to be responsible and portray reality and then one is stifled. I have created something that is already on the public platform and the court verdict is out. Maybe I should make an episode saying that everything is fine in our country."
Justice ML Mehta, in an interim direction, had asked the entertainment channel not to telecast the episode, scheduled to be aired on Saturday.
The court's order came on a plea of Chautala, his then officer on special duty Vidya Dhar and political advisor Sher Singh Badshami. Advocate Rajiv Nayyar, appearing for Chautala, asked the court to direct the channel to postpone the telecast till the pending petition seeking suspension of their sentence is decided by another bench, as the programme could adversely impact the appeal against the trial court verdict.
He said that Chautala has also sought suspension of his 10 year imprisonment and till it is decided, the programme's telecast should be deferred. The trial court last month sentenced Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and eight others to 10 years in jail while one convict was sentenced to five years and 45 others were handed out four-year jail terms after convicting them of illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained teachers in Haryana in 2000.
(With inputs from IANS)