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Sudarshan TV: Free speech has become hatred, says Supreme Court

Supreme Court
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Supreme Court 

Highlights

The Supreme Court Friday questioned Sudarshan TV over its Bindas Bol' programme, whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the 'big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service', and asked whether media can be allowed to target whole set of communities.

The Supreme Court Friday questioned Sudarshan TV over its Bindas Bol' programme, whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the 'big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service', and asked whether media can be allowed to target whole set of communities.

The apex court, while hearing a plea which has raised grievance over the programme, said the channel is entitled to break story but it cannot brand the entire community and alienate them by doing such kind of stories. "This is the real issue. Whenever you show them joining civil services, you show ISIS. You want to say that Muslims joining Civil Services is a part of a deep-rooted conspiracy. Can the media be allowed to target whole set of communities," a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud asked.

Painting all candidates as carrying out an agenda shows the kind of hatred. This is the element of concern, said the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph.

"Here free speech becomes hatred. You can't brand every member of the community. You alienate the good members too by divisive agenda," it said.

The bench told senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was representing Sudarshan TV, that the court has no problem with the story on investigative journalism on funding from terror-linked organisations but it cannot be said that Muslims are carrying out some agenda by going for UPSC services.

"Let a message go to media that a particular community cannot be targeted. We have to look after a nation of the future which is cohesive and diverse, it said, adding, Let this message go to the media that the country cannot survive with such agenda. We are a court and seen as to what happened during emergency and it is our duty to see that human dignity is preserved," said the bench.

Divan referred to the affidavit filed in the apex court by Suresh Chavhanke, Editor-in-Chief of the channel. In the affidavit, the channel has defended its programme saying it has used the term 'UPSC Jehad' based on information that 'Zakat Foundation' received funds from various terror-linked organisations. Zakat Foundation provides training and study materials largely to Muslim students who aspire to join civil services. Earlier, Sudarshan TV has moved an application seeking a live telecast of the hearing of the plea.

The application filed by Sudarshan News through its director and editor Suresh Chavhanke said, "It is respectfully submitted that the present case is one of the most important cases concerning the public at large as the question of freedom of press protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India is involved."

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