Pained by NDTV’s 2008 show on Hindu Terror: Suresh Chavhanke tells SC
The Supreme Court had on September 18 ordered Sudarshan News to file an affidavit giving details of what changes it proposed to make regarding Bindas Bol so as to convince the court to lift the injunction imposed on September 15.Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 23:02 IST
Television news channel Sudarshan News filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on Sunday stating that it will comply with all laws while airing the remaining episodes of the controversial programme Bindas Bol relating to the entry of Muslims in civil services and prayed that the September 15 injunction on the telecast of remaining episodes be lifted.
The affidavit filed by Editor-in-Chief of the channel, Suresh Chavhanke reiterated it earlier stance that the channel does not harbour any ill-will against any particular community and reaffirmed its commitment to abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Rules which prescribes the permissible limit of TV content.
“I will strictly comply with all laws while airing the remaining episodes of ‘Bindas Bol’ program series on the subject of UPSC Jihad. The respondent (Chavhanke) further states that he we will abide and comply by the programme code and directions of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting strictly,” the affidavit filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain said.
Interestingly, Chavhanke, in his affidavit highlighted two shows aired by another NDTV, one in September 2008 titled “Hindu Terror: Myth or Fact” and another in 2010 titled “Is Saffron Threat Real?” which he submitted “pained” and “shocked” him.
“The deponent (Chavhanke ) was shocked and pained when on September 17, 2008 NDTV (English News Channel) had broadcast a programme anchored by Ms. Barkha Dutt titled as “‘Hindu’ Terror: Myth or fact.” In this programme just adjacent to the programme caption i.e. “‘Hindu’ Terror: Myth or fact?”, a Hindu Saint was shown with ‘Tilak’ and ‘Chillam’ and also a ‘Trishul’ (one of most scared symbols for Hindus and associated with most revered deity of the Hindus, ‘Lord Shiva’)”, the affidavit said.
The Supreme Court had on September 18 ordered Sudarshan News to file an affidavit giving details of what changes it proposed to make regarding Bindas Bol so as to convince the court to lift the injunction imposed on September 15.
The injunction was imposed after a lawyer, Firoz Iqbal Khan approached the top court alleging that the programme contained statements which were derogatory about the entry of Muslims in the civil services and was in violation of the programme code.
The Noida-based news channel had earlier filed an affidavit on September 16 claiming Bindas Bol is only intended to highlight the alleged dubious sources of foreign funding received by an organization, Zakat Foundation which supports and provides coaching for civil service aspirants. The channel had said that it does not oppose selection of any meritorious candidate to UPSC and its intention was only to highlight anti-national activities.
The Supreme Court, during the hearing of the case on September 18, said that it will not stand in the way of media discussing dubious funding of NGOs or issues concerning national security. But targeting an entire community on the basis of dubious funding of one organization is not acceptable, the court added taking exception to certain visuals aired in the first 4 episodes of Bindas Bol which the bench said were “very hurtful” and stereotyped Muslim community.
Meanwhile, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) also filed an affidavit before the apex court asking the court to pass directions to ensure that the Code of Ethics laid down by NBA for self-regulation of TV news channels should be given the force of law by including it under the Programme Code.
This would make the Code of Ethics binding on all TV broadcasters irrespective of whether or not the broadcaster is a member of NBA, the affidavit filed on September 19 added.
The Programme Code under Rule 6 of the Cable TV Rules regulates TV content by laying down what is not permissible to be carried in a cable service. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 along with Cable TV Rules and the Programme Code regulate television content.
Besides, the NBA which is a private association of 26 news channels has also framed a code of conduct for self-regulation of media. It can hold inquiry against broadcasters for violation of the code and can impose fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. But the same is applicable only to its members and many broadcasters including Sudarshan News are not members of NBA.
The Supreme Court had taken a grim view of NBA’s functioning on September 18 calling it “toothless”.
“NBA says they have a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. They can impose a maximum fine of 1 lakh. This shows how toothless you are,” justice DY Chandrachud who was heading the bench said, underscoring that a fine of Rs 1 lakh will not have any impact on a news channel.
Justice Chandrachud also pointed out that the NBA’s jurisdiction extends only to those broadcasters which are its members.
The court had, therefore, asked NBA to come up with concrete suggestions on strengthening its self-regulation mechanism.
“The court should grant recognition to the independent self-regulatory mechanism, so that complaints against all news broadcasters, whether members or not, may be entertained by NBA and the orders passed by it would be binding on all news broadcasters,” NBA said in its affidavit.