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Rakul Preet Singh's Case: TV Today Network Moves Delhi High Court Against MIB's Decision Declaring Aaj Tak's Taglines 'Offensive'

Akshita Saxena
19 Nov 2021 5:47 AM GMT
Rakul Preet Singhs Case: TV Today Network Moves Delhi High Court Against MIBs Decision Declaring Aaj Taks Taglines Offensive
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TV Today Network has moved the Delhi High Court against an order passed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, declaring that the reporting done by its channel Aaj Tak in context of actress Rhea Chakraborty's narcotic drugs case is violative of the Programme Code. The order was passed following a representation made by actress Rakul Preet Singh for allegedly linking her...

TV Today Network has moved the Delhi High Court against an order passed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, declaring that the reporting done by its channel Aaj Tak in context of actress Rhea Chakraborty's narcotic drugs case is violative of the Programme Code.

The order was passed following a representation made by actress Rakul Preet Singh for allegedly linking her to the drug fiasco, after her name surfaced during the investigation related to Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death.

The Ministry has found that the Taglines used by the channel were offensive and its reporting was held to be violative of the Rule 6(i) of the Programme Code. Accordingly, a warning was issued to the channel to strictly abide by the Programme and Advertising Codes and to exercise greater caution in future while telecasting such news stories.

At the outset, the Petitioner has stated that no show-cause notice was issued to it in this regard. A mere communication was issued to 'discuss' the matter and not to take any action for any alleged violation of the Programme Code.

It is further pointed out that there was no allegation, in the representation made by Rakul Preet to the Ministry, against the Taglines used by the channel.

Right to hearing violated

The Petitioner has submitted that the impugned order was passed by Joint Secretary, MIB, who is not a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which had discussed the issue.

It is stated that the Joint Secretary, while passing an order as to violation of a Programme Code acts as a Quasi-Judicial Authority.

"A Quasi-Judicial function cannot be delegated. One who decides must hear the person." Therefore, the Joint Secretary was obligated to hear the Petitioner before passing the Impugned Order.

Rule 6(1)(i) has no connection with being 'offensive'

The impugned order concludes that 'taglines given in the broadcasts are offensive and violative of Rule 6(1)(i) of the Programme Code'.

However, the Petitioner has contended that Rule 6(1)(i) does not in any manner deal with 'offensive'. Therefore, the Impugned order has been passed on the basis of non-existent violation.

Furthermore, the test of offensive has repeatedly been held to be 'vague' and 'uncertain'

"The Petitioner is engaged in the dissemination of news broadcasts and other relevant information to the public at large. The prohibition on the anvil of 'offensive' is clearly in violation of Articles 19(1)(a) of the Constitution," the plea states.

Broadcasts in accordance with the Programme Code.

Finally, the Petitioner has claimed that the impugned Broadcasts were in accordance with the Programme Code. The plea states,

"The Impugned broadcasts of the Petitioner's News Channel 'Aaj Tak' only reflects the investigation conducted by the Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai. The progress of the investigation has been broadcasted on the basis of the information received from the NCB sources. The Broadcast specifically attributes the NCB sources as being the source providing the information. The information provided in the Broadcast are matter of fact and based on information provided by the investigating agency. Therefore, the Broadcast was fair and does not constitute in any manner a violation to the Programme Code."

Accordingly, it is urged that the impugned order of the Joint Secretary, MIB be quashed.

The matter is likely to be heard by Justice Rekha Palli on November 25.

The petition is filed through Advocate Shahrukh Ejaz.

Case Title: TV Today Network v. Union of India & Ors.

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