Dr. Kota Neelima, a renowned author and researcher and Sangeeta Tyagi, wife of Late Shri Rajiv Tyagi (National Spokesperson on Congress) have intervened in the Supreme Court, in the ongoing case against Sudarshan TV for the telecast of its show, with the tagline UPSC Jihad, based on the alleged infiltration of muslims in the Civil Services.
The application filed by Advocate Sunil Fernandes states that the show by Sudarshan TV, hosted by its Editor in Chief Suresh Chavhanke is "emblematic of a larger, insidious malady" which has infected the electronic media of TV anchors in the country, i.e. to shamelessly indulge in hate speeches on "prime time" news.
Elaborating on the above, the plea opens its averments on the following note,
"The situation of the Electronic Media in our Country, in the most respectful submission of the Applicants, bears unhappy and undesirable parallels with Nazi Germany, at least with regards to "Hate Speeches" in the Electronic Media, and therefore, the Applicants verily believe that they shall fail in their constitutional duty if they do not approach this Hon'ble Court with the instant Application"
The applicants state that Late Shri Rajiv Tyagi was an unfortunate victim of a 'Hate Speech' during a TV Debate on Aaj Tak New Channel on 12.08.2020 at 5 p.m. when during a discussion of violence in Bengaluru, he was repeatedly vilified as "Jaichand" (a pejorative metaphor used these days to demonize somebody from the Hindu faith who does not subscribe to the right wing fundamentalist ideology). Consequently, the Late Shri Rajiv Tyagi suffered a fatal heart attack on the same day immediately after the debate from which he could not recover and passed away soon thereafter. Thus, the Applicant No. 2 has witnessed and suffered the irredeemable consequences of "Hate Speech" , the plea states.
Next, the intervenors state that none of the existing laws in India define the term "Hate Speech", even though the United Nations in its "Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech", has defined the term "Hate Speech" as "any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor."
The plea states that there is a steady and almost irreversible trend clearly visible these days, whereby the TV Anchors and TV Debates have debased and degenerated themselves into blatant purveyors of "Hate Speech". The reasons for this are manifold, the plea reads, adding that the "remote control" of these TV debates is in the hands of the political class in power so as to effectuate a narrative that would suit their "electoral and ideological objectives" and "discredit, demonize and vilify their political and ideological opponents".
Plea reads that Dr. Kota Neelima has endeavoured to research and study this "malady"& has developed an independent, factual and an objective research-based study of the Television News Debates known as Rate The Debate ("RTD"), aim of the study being, to highlight "the colonization of democratic deliberative space on media by vested interests". "It is a platform which analyses debates conducted on leading mainstream Television News Channels, by examining quantitative and qualitative metrics, and evaluating the content of the debate, and conduct of the anchor and panelists...." - Excerpt of plea
In this backdrop, the applicant states that it found that Topic of discussion, the opening remarks and the 'flow' of the "News Debates" conducted by TV Anchors like Amish Devgan, Arnab Goswami, Anjana Om Kashyap and Ananad Narsimhan is to support the Government's narrative and discredit, demonize and vilify the voices of the opposition or dissenters.
"The obliteration of the basic concepts i.e. distinction between the Nation and the Government of the day is complete. These TV Anchors make a priori assumption that everything done by the Central Government is in the best interest of the nation and anyone who speaks a contrarian voice, is a fortiori, an "anti-national"."
Apropos these trends, the applicants have prayed the top court to take judicial notice of those TV Debates/ TV Anchors peddling "Hate Speeches" under the garb of Article 19 of the Constitution of India and pass appropriate directions under Articles 32, 141, 142, 144 of the Constitution of India to combat this over-arching menace till such time that a suitable law is enacted by the Legislature.
"A committee can be constituted for the time being which will be aimed to develop norms for mandatory discussions on chosen topics that reflect the concerns in the Constitution of India in order to establish a healthy atmosphere in the Country. It shall strive to develop a mechanism which will have a rating system for the TV Anchors and News Debates, so as to ensure that News Debates are democratic and fair, and do not pander to divisive agenda" - Excerpt of plea