The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the petitions seeking action against media for communalization of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun asked the Petitioner's Counsel, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave to approach the News Broadcasting Standards Authority as many complaints in this regard were already pending before it when he sought an adjournment.
However, Dave stated that there were issues pertaining to various statutes and urged the Top Court to hear it. "We want the government to take action" he said.
CJI Bobde remarked that action was called for but a preliminary inquiry was imperative to determine aspects & nuances associated with multiple cases.
On the last hearing, court issued notice to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and sought a report from the Press Council of India (PCI) & called for a general report from the PCI after it was informed that Court that cognizance of 50 cases had been already been taken by them.
At the outset, the CJI Bobde expressed his desire to allow an expert body to look into the matter. He was of the view that either the entire matter be transferred to an expert Organisation or a report be sought from such a body to assist the Court in arriving at a conclusion.
"We have received an affidavit from the Respondents (Centre) as well as the Broadcasters. We could request this Broadcasters' Association to hear you and look into the issue from the perspective of reporting standards...we're not belittling the problem, but are handicapped for a lack of expertise. An expert body needs to look into this", stated CJI Bobde.
The plea essentially stresses that the Government, particularly the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has failed in its duty to give equal protection of 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. The Court is taking up a total of three petitions which seek a common prayer.
When the case had first come up for hearing, the CJI led bench had observed that it was not inclined to pass interim orders in a plea seeking strict action against the media for communalization of the Coronavirus pandemic, in light of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin.
"We cannot gag the Press. We will not pass interim order/ directions" stated the CJI SA Bobde.
The bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices LN Rao & MM Shantanagoudar expressed inclination to make solid long term measures about news items, while stating that only upon "taking cognizance, will people understand".
The Court is hearing the petition filed Jamait Ulama-i-Hind seeking action against media reports indulging in communal branding of COVID-19 pandemic in the light of Tablighi Jamaat meeting held in Delhi last month along with two other petitions filed by D J Haali Federation of Masaajid, Madaaris and Wakf Institutions and Abdul Kuddus Lakar, highlighting the issue of violence against minority community and publication of names of COVID-19 infected patients.