Any attempt to vilify a religious community must be viewed with grave disfavour by this Court as the custodian of constitutional values, the Supreme Court observed in the order passed today restraining Sudarshan TV News from telecasting the remaining episodes of the 'Bindas Bol' show about Muslims clearing the UPSC exam.
The court passed this interim order in a petition filed against the telecast of the show hosted by the channel's Chief Editor Suresh Chavhanke on the ground that it was communalizing the entry of Muslims into UPSC. The bench, prima facie noted that the intent, object and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community. The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph observed:
At this stage, prima facie, it does appear to the Court that the intent, object and purpose of the episodes which have been telecast is to vilify the Muslim community. An insidious attempt has been made to insinuate that the community is involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services. Several statements in the episodes, which have been drawn to the attention of the Court are not just palpably erroneous but have been made in wanton disregard of the truth. There is no relaxation either in the age limit or in the number of attempts available to the Muslim community in the civil services. The drift, tenor and content of the episodes is to bring the community into public hatred and disrepute.
Breach of the Programme Code
The court particularly noted Rule 6 of the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules which stipulates that no programme should be carried which "contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words 8 contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes". "Under Rule 6(1)(d), the Programme Code should not, inter alia, contain anything which is defamatory, false or reflective of "half - truths and suggestive innuendos". A breach of the Programme Code is subject to sanctions under Sections 19 and 20 of the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.", the bench said.
The court further added:
The edifice of a democratic society committed to the rule of law under a regime of constitutional rights, values and duties is founded on the co-existence of communities. India is a melting pot of civilizations, cultures, religions and languages. Any attempt to vilify a religious community must be viewed with grave disfavour by this Court as the custodian of constitutional values. Its duty to enforce constitutional values demands nothing less."
The bench also observed that there has been a change of circumstances as episodes have been aired between 11 and 14 September 2020 which indicate the content, tenor and object of the telecast in question. On the basis of what has been aired, we are of the view that it will be necessary to interdict any further telecast, the bench said.
While posting the case to 17th September 2020, the bench directed:
Consequently, we direct that pending further orders of this Court, the fifth respondent shall stand injuncted from making any further telecast in continuation of or similar to the episodes which were telecast on 11, 12, 13 and 14 September, 2020 either under the same or any other title or caption.