Jamait ulama-i-hind, an organization of Islamic scholars, has moved the Supreme Court seeking strict action against the media for communalization of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin.
The plea states that certain sections of the media have been using "Communal headlines" and "bigoted statements" to demonise and blame the entire Muslim community of deliberately spreading the corona virus across the country, which has in turn threatened the lives of Muslims.
"The present petition is necessitated on account of the communal colour being given to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic by certain sections of print, electronic and social media posing a threat to the life and liberty of Muslims infringing their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. The demonization is also an infringement of the right to live with dignity which is also covered under Article 21 of the Constitution."
It is pointed out that such reporting has triggered "communal antagonism" and has also perpetrated hatred at a time when united efforts are required to fight against COVID-19.
The petition filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool stresses that the Government, particularly the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has failed in its duty to give equal protection of the law to all persons in India under Article 14 of the Constitution by allowing the media to present facts in a twisted manner, using phrases that are prejudicial to the Muslim community.
It is further argued that the media has violated all norms of Journalistic conduct by resorting to such "dog whistle tactics" of targeting Muslims. Furthermore, such reporting is in clear violation of Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 which prohibits any program which contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.
"Actions of certain sections of the media are also against the letter and spirit of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards issued by the New Broadcasters Association, which is the regulatory body for news channel. Under the Code, ensuring neutrality and objectivity in reporting is one of the foremost principles of media regulation," the plea states.
It is thus urged that the Media be directed to tread with caution, be warned against giving any communal angle to Nizamuddinn Markaz incident and strict action be taken against errants.
Inter alia, the plea alleges that social media is also replete with misinformation and fake news, aimed at giving the entire incident a communal tone and proliferating "conspiracy theories" about the Talibaghi Jamaat deliberately spreading the corona virus across the country.
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