Synopsis: The Apex court stated that, in its notice to the news channel, the Centre had exercised its powers under the Cable Network TV Act, in 1995 and asked the Centre, at the next hearing, to file a report on its course of action.
On Wednesday, after the Centre told the Supreme Court that it had prima facie found that Sudarshan TV’s ‘Bindas Bol’ show had breached the programme code and issued a notice to the channel, the top court adjourned the hearing in the case until 5 October.
The top court stated that the actions taken by the government would be subjected to the court’s orders in compliance with the show-case notice against the channel.
Judges D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph, were been informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that Sudarshan TV has to respond to the show cause notice by September 28, failing which an ex parte decision will be made.
The hearing involves the plea against the channel programme, which reportedly had negative remarks about how the Indian public services were “infiltrated” by Muslims.
Taking note of the arguments made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the central government has given a notice to Sudarshan channel in the exercise of power by 20(3) of the Cable TV Act 1995, the court deemed it appropriate to mention the matter for further hearing on October 1. The notice will be dealt with in compliance with the legislation and a report to the court stating the outcome of this notice has been sought from the central government. The interim orders will proceed, including a stay on the show’s telecast.
The Solicitor General suggested that before the I&B Ministry takes a final decision on the show cause notice sent to Sudarshan TV, the court may postpone these proceedings.
Senior Advocate Anoop Chaudhari, however, clarified that the interim orders against the show’s telecast could proceed if the hearing is adjourned. SG Mehta gave consent to the same.
In response to the complaint of Advocate Gautam Bhatia that this case has questions that need to be decided, Justice Chandrachud mentioned that the Central Government’s decision would not settle the matter.
In this situation, Justice Chandrachud asked Mehta whether the Central Government would authorise the petitioners to file submissions before the legislative authority.
Mehta submitted that, as there will be no deviation from the statutory framework, petitioners will not be authorised to make submissions before the legislative authority, and this would form a precedent. He added that the government will take the call to hear a party it finds necessary and no order is expected from the court.
In its previous hearing, the supreme court had made some powerful observations while restricting Sudarshan TV news channel from broadcasting the remaining episodes of its ‘Bindas Bol’ show that talks about Muslims before further orders get through the UPSC exam.