NEW DELHI: Expressing deep concern on use of electronic media to attack a particular community, the Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained Sudarshan TV from telecasting new episodes of its show Bindas Bol, saying the programme prima facie appears to vilify the Muslim community.
The observation by a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph came while hearing a petition against the show, terming the entry of Muslims in civil services as ‘bureaucratic jihad’.
“As the Supreme Court of this nation, we can’t allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating civil services. We can’t tolerate this,” the bench said.
According to the channel’s submission before the SC, four episodes have been aired and five more episodes are pending.
“Here is one anchor who says one particular community is trying to infiltrate the civil services. Can anything be more insidious?” Justice Chandrachud remarked, adding that such allegations also cast aspersions on the credibility of the UPSC exam.
“What you are doing does not do credit to our democratic system. Your client is doing great disservice to the nation,” he told advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared for the channel.
As Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that “freedom of journalist is supreme” and that “it would be disastrous for any democracy to control press,” the bench stressed that such programmes that tend to show a particular community in bad light cannot go without scrutiny. “No freedom is absolute…,” Justice Joseph said.
The bench said it was not suggesting ‘censorship on media, but there should be some kind of self-regulation.
“The problem with electronic media is all about TRPs, thus leading to more sensationalism. So many things masquerade as a form of right,” it observed. The court was of the view that electronic media, because of its access, can become a focal point for destabilising the nation, and hence, certain standards should guide them.
‘Panel should be set up to suggest principles’
Stressing “the need to regulate the electronic media now”, the bench agreed that “the State cannot do this”. It added that a panel of five distinguished citizens can be set up to suggest certain principles to guide the electronic media.