The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the response of the Centre in a plea seeking strict action against the media for communalization of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & Hrishikesh Roy directed the Petitioners to implead the the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) as well as the Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj to file a reply explaining as to why no action was taken by the Government under Sections 19 & 20 of the Cable Televisions Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
"Don't let people instigate law and order issues, these are the things that later become law and order issues" CJI SA Bobde stated while seeking a response from the Centre.
The Top Court took up three petitions seeking a common prayer together. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appeared for Jamiat-ulema-i-Hind while Advocate Adeel Ahmed appeared on behalf of DJ Halli Federation of Masjid Madaaris and Wakf Institute.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave argued that "fake news damages the secular fabric of the nation" and urged the Supreme court to take immediate action.
Mr. Dave also directed the Court's attention towards the allegedly communal reporting by the media. He emphasised that such reporting was in serious violation of the law and therefore immediate action was required as already substantial time had lapsed.
Dave: "These broadcasts etc make out offences under the law. Why is the Government silent?"
CJI: "We take all matters seriously. Don't say repeatedly that take these matters seriously"
Jamait ulama-i-hind, an organization of Islamic scholars had moved the Supreme Court stating 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 had 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."
The petition filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool stressed that the Government, particularly the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 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.
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