Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Regulate news channels on hate speech, says plea in Delhi High Court

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New Delhi (ILNS): A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to regulate news channels over broadcast and publishing of content based on communal disharmony and hate speech.

The plea has condemned the news channel Sudharshan TV. The Channel, in its October 12 show ‘Bindas Bol’, made attempts to incite hatred among two religious groups by terming the ad as ‘advertisement jihad’. It violates the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, together with the Code of Ethics and News Broadcasting Standards Regulations.

The petitioner, Advocate Asghar Khan, said in his plea that the Programme Code under the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Rules stipulate that no programme should be carried which “contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.”

The plea has been filed to seek directions:

1. to the authorities to form guidelines to that media does not abuse the freedom of speech and expression.

2. to the authorities commanding them to make a mechanism to check contents and advertisements which are spreading hatred amongst the communities and are against the society at large and the spirit of Union of India.

It has also prayed for imposition of ‘gag order” restraining the orator or author of hate or derogatory speeches made on the lines of religion from addressing the public anywhere within the country till the disposal of the criminal proceeding initiated against him.

Importantly, the plea states,

“That using the expression that exposes the group to hatred, hate speech seeks to delegitimise group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society. Hate speech, therefore, rises beyond causing distress to individual group members. It can have a social impact. Hate speech lays the ground-work for later, broad attacks on vulnerable that can range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide. Hate speech also impacts a protected group’s ability to respond to the substantive ideas under debate, thereby placing a serious barrier to their full participation in our democracy.”

The Petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.

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