The Supreme Court on Friday asked Sudarshan News to “propose measures to alter the derogatory and targeting tenor of its show ‘Bindaas Bol’, which as per the judges is associated with the “vilification and “stereotyping” of the Muslim community.
The bench of the justices including Justice K.M Joseph and Indu Malhotra remarked the presentation of the show as ‘inciteful’. “You have to tell us voluntarily what you will do to assuage our concerns. We don’t want to come in the way of journalism. We know as a court what happened during Emergency, so we will ensure free speech and ideas,” said a three-judge bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, seeking an affidavit from Sudarshan News’s Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke, as per The Print.
The controversial show has already aired its Four episodes on the channel. It claims a “big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service”. The channel head Suresh Chavhanke Coined the term “UPSC Jihad” for the same.
As per the court, they were hearing petitions regarding the broadcast of the show since its very beginning. “To say that every member of the community represents a terrorist organization just because some funding members are not above the board is wrong. Because this is where it goes from free speech to hatred as it implies that every member of the community has an agenda,” the court said.
Chavhanke, in an affidavit filed on Wednesday night, in the top court, defended the usage of the terms “UPSC Jihad” and “bureaucracy Jihad” in the problematic show hosted by him.
Concerns regarding the graphics used in the show, which according to the judges were “offensive” were also put forward.
“Every time a reference is made to a Muslim person, he is shown in a green t-shirt,” said Justice Chandrachud, as per The Print. The bench spoke about the representation of Muslims with a skull cap, beard and a green face with flames in the background.
Justice Malhotra added, “Some of these images were offensive to us as well. These flames and (Rs) 500 crores, they were hurtful to us as well. These have to be taken down. We cannot dub the community and the picture of a person wearing a skull cap and green t-shirt with a tag of (Rs) 500 crores.”
Justice Chandrachud also raised objections towards the live chat aired during one of the episodes. Expressing his awareness about the restrain of publication as an extreme step, he said that there were certain elements of the show which made the court take this extreme step.
He further pondered over the issue of implicating an entire community as taking over the civil services and their representation of ISIS, whenever a Muslim joins Civil services. He raised objections to the usage of words such as ‘namakharam’ (disloyal) to describe Muslims in the show.
The inability of the National Broadcaster’s Association (NBA) to take measures against the channel was also discussed and criticized as “toothless” by the court. “We also make channels apologize on prime time. We are not toothless. Several Supreme Court and high court judgements commend our regulations,” the lawyer appearing for NBA said as per NDTV.
In a separate affidavit filed by Sudarshan TV, the channel said it had no intention against any community or individual and the show is in national interest. However, the Supreme court asked the channel to explain its position clearly, as the content aired was seen as a direct attack on the Muslim community.
Divan accepted that there should be an unbiased representation to inhibit the spread of such stereotypes. He assured that he will aware his client of the problematic aspects pointed out by the judges and will make sure those elements are revisited.
In a final statement, Justice Chandrachud said, “While we respect freedom of media, let this message to go to the media as well that any community shouldn’t become a target. Ultimately, we all exist as a nation, which must be cohesive and not against any community”.
This action of the Supreme Court has been widely seen as a welcome shift amidst the many judgements in the recent past.