Friday, April 19, 2024

Delhi High Court directs Sudarshan TV, social media platforms to take down video against man booked for forceful conversion

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed a couple of news channels, including Sudarshan News and social media platforms such as YouTube, Google and Twitter, to immediately block links of a news report that accused a Muslim man of forcefully converting a woman to Islam.

The Single-Judge bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh passed the orders on a petition filed by one Azmat Ali Khan, stating that a Delhi-based woman, with whom he was in a romantic relationship for nearly seven years, had alleged that he tried to convert her to Islam.

Representing Khan, Advocate Rajiv Bajaj apprised the High Court that Delhi Police had registered an FIR against him on April 19 this year on the basis of these allegations and was currently investigating the matter. A Delhi court had already granted anticipatory bail to Khan in the case, he added.

He contended that Sudarshan News recently carried a report, wherein various allegations were made against Khan and offensive words like ‘Jihadi’ were used for him. He even played one of the videos in the court and alleged that the channel’s reporters were harassing Khan and his family. Even Aaj Tak held a debate on the issue last night, pointed out the Counsel.

The lawyer representing the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) said that it cannot take any action against the Sudarshan News because the channel was not its member.

The Press Council of India (PCI) also expressed similar views, saying that it cannot take action on videos uploaded on YouTube and other platforms.

Considering the gravity of the case, the High Court ordered the respondents to take down/block the video. 

It further issued notice to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), NBDA, PCI, Suresh Chavhanke, Sudarshan News, Orissa TV, Bharat Prakashan, Youtube, Google, and Twitter, seeking their reply over the matter.

The Bench further issued notice to the Delhi Police and directed it to place on record a status report in respect of the investigation carried out in the matter.

The Counsel representing the Delhi Police was directed to contact the complainant and intimate her about the pendency of the petition.

The High Court said considering the severe threat to the petitioner and his family due to the videos, as was evident from the comments placed before the court, it has directed all the respondents to immediately block the links set out in the petition for public viewing. 

(Case title: Azmat Ali Khan vs Union of India & Ors)


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