NEW DELHI—Restraining the Sudarshan TV News from telecasting the remaining episodes of the ‘Bindas Bol’ show about Muslims clearing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations until further orders, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice DY Chandrachud observed that prima facie it appeared that the very objective of the show is to vilify Muslims.
“You cannot target one community and brand them in a particular manner”, the bench observed.
The apex court made the observations on a petition filed against the telecast of the show hosted by the channel’s Chief editor Suresh Chavhanke, with petitions submitting that the show titled as “UPSC Jihad” was communalizing the entry of Muslims into UPSC.
“At this stage, prima facie, it appears to the court that the object, intent and purpose of the program is to vilify the Muslim community with an insidious attempt to portray them as part of a conspiracy to infiltrate the civil services”, the court observed in its order.
The court also pointed that there were factual error in the statements made in the program about the upper age limit and the number of attempts allowed to Muslim candidates in UPSC exams.
In a hard-hitting observation, the court said, “The edifice of a stable democratic society under a regime of constitutional rights and values is founded on the co-existence of communities. India is a melting pot of civilizations, cultures and values. Any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with great disfavour by this court which is a custodian of constitutional rights”.
Appearing for the channel, senior advocate Shyam Divan said that the show was part of “investigative journalism” and a “freedom of speech issue”, Justice Chandrachud categorically disagreed. “This is not a freedom of speech issue. When you say that students of Jamia are part of a conspiracy to infiltrate civil services, that is not permissible. You cannot target one community and brand them a particular manner. This is insidious attempt to malign a community”, Justice Chandrachud remarked.
He further said, “As Supreme court of the nation, we cannot allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating civil services. You cannot say that the journalist has absolute freedom to do this”.
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Shahrukh Alam submitted that the show had gone beyond the realm of freedom of speech as the channel was inviting reactions from its viewers who were making bigoted comments about the Muslim community.
Regarding four episodes of the show that was telecast from September 11 to 14, Justice Chandrachud observed, “This programme is so insidious. Citizens from a particular community who go through the same examinations and get interviewed by the same panel. This also casts aspersions on the UPSC examination. How do we deal with these issues? Can this be tolerated?”
He exclaimed, “..how rabid can it get? Targeting a community who are appearing for civil service!”