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7 ex-civil servants protesting Sudarshan TV show, want to intervene in case

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New Delhi: Seven former civil servants have filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court, in the case of ‘Firoz Iqbal Khan’ seeking injunction against the telecast of a show over Sudarshan TV which is allegedly communalising the selection of Muslims in UPSC exams.

They submitted that on September 1, the members of the collective, 91 in number had submitted a representation to the home minister and the Minister of Information and broadcasting, pointing out that the said programme would “generate hatred towards the largest minority community of the country.”

“It is respectfully submitted that this is an important and urgent judicial task. There exist several legal provisions that prohibit, criminalise or otherwise penalise what is colloquially known as “hate speech”. These include sections 153A and 153B of the Indian penal code, section 3(i)(x) of the SC & ST Act, Section 5 of the Cinematograph Act and the Programme Code which is passed under the authority of the Cable Regulation Network Act, and which is at issue in the present case,” the plea contends.

The Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice KM Joseph on the previous hearing in the case of “Firoz Iqbal Khan Vs Union of India” had refused to impose a pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction on the Sudarshan TV show. The Court had noted in the order that during the hearing it had been highlighted that the expression of views derogatory to a particular community has a divisive potential. Prima facie, the petition raises significant issues bearing on the protection of constitutional rights.

Sudarshan TV

The petition was filed seeking injunction on the video clip by Sudarshan News Channel that contains statements which are derogatory of the entry of Muslims in the civil services. The Court had issued notice but refused to pass any injunction order on the 49 second clip.

“Having regard to the importance of the issues which arise from the petition under Article 32, we direct that notice be issued to the respondents, returnable on 15 September 2020. On the next date of listing, the court will consider appointing amicus curiae to assist it towards a resolution which advances the protection of constitutional rights,”

the Court had said.

“Consistent with the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the Court will need to foster a considered a debate on the setting up of standards of self- regulation. Together with free speech, there are other constitutional values which need to be balanced and preserved including the fundamental right to equality and fair treatment for every segment of citizens,’ said the Court.

It had further said,

“The Court has to be circumspect in imposing a prior restraint on publication or the airing of views. We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities.”

Read Also: ‘Judiciary in video conferencing, as students appear for NEET’: Madras HC judge sees contempt in actors’ comment

The matter is listed tomorrow for hearing before the bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph.

-India Legal Bureau

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