GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has set aside an order of the city Police Commissioner that suspended the telecast of an Assamese TV serial “Begum Jaan” for two months.
The order for suspension of Begum Jaan’s telecast was issued on August 24 based on the recommendations of a 10-member district level monitoring committee after some groups and individuals had lodged complaints with the police demanding a complete ban on the serial alleging that it was promoting “love jihad”.
After Police Commissioner Munna Prasad Gupta had issued the prohibitory order under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995, the channel moved the court.
The petitioners’ counsel argued that a representative from the electronic media was not included in the committee as mandated as per the latest guidelines of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Also, the counsel said, it is the Central government which is authorized to initiate action in the matter and the monitoring committee is only empowered to make a suitable recommendation to the government after hearing both parties.
“However, in the present case, not to speak of any opportunity of hearing to the writ petitioners, the authorities did not even forward the copies of the complaints received by it to the petitioners before issuing the impugned order banning the telecast of the serial for a period of two months,” the petitioners’ counsel said.
After observing that the impugned order was passed without hearing the affected parties and without conforming to the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1994, the court of Justice Suman Shyam set aside the ban.
“Since the impugned order has been set aside by this Court, the writ petitioners would be at liberty to telecast the serial ‘Begum Jaan’, if so advised,” the court ordered.
At the same time, it advised the channel’s managing director to air Begum Jaan only after he “reaches his personal satisfaction to the effect that any content of the serial which is deemed to be universally objectionable on the ground of violation of communal harmony or which may contain anything that may harm the religious sentiment of any community, is deleted... Subject to observation of the above condition, it would be open for the petitioners to telecast the TV serial ‘Begum Jaan’ in accordance with law”.
Preety Kongkana, who plays the role of protagonist, said love jihad in “Begum Jaan” was a figment of some people’s imagination.
“This is basically about a Hindu girl being caught in a difficult situation and is helped by a Muslim man. However, rumour is spread that Janmoni (her character) eloped with the Muslim man. There’s no communal angle in it. It, in fact, depicts humanity above faith,” she had said recently.