Sorry, Your Lordship (Indian Express)
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: World press freedom index 2020
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
- A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph have cannedSudarshan TV headman Suresh Chavhanke’s awfulshow “Bindas Bol”.
Vilifying certain section:
- Promoted online with #UPSC_Jihad, the show vilifiesMuslims, accusing them of a campaign to infiltratethe bureaucracy, and undermines the Union Public Service Commission, by the implication that it offers unfair advantage to the community.
- Dodgyon facts and analysis, it is informed by a “wantondisregard of the truth”, as the Supreme Court very accurately observed, and is premised on a denial of the reality of a plural India.
- The bench called out the show for what it was — hateful propaganda masqueradingas analysis.
- The court was spot on — especially when Sudarshan TV is not alone in this shameful corner.
- Through the months of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, and in the initial days of COVID-19, with the exception of a few, TV news channels revelledin an inglorious orgyof partisan deception, vilification and rumour-mongering.
- News will be weaponised by those in power when they have willing accomplicesin TV studios.
- But prior restraint, as the Supreme Court itself has repeatedly underlined, is a solution that has ramificationsas disturbing as the problem it’s trying to address.
- As Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta wondered in court, to what extent can the media be regulated by other institutions?
- On August 28, the Court had rightly declined to impose a “pre-broadcast interlocutory injunction” against the offending show.
- On September 9, the Centre permitted transmission of an episode of #UPSC_Jihad, with the caveatthat it must not violate the Programme Code.
- But this week, the bench observed that circumstances had changed and “the drift, tenor and content of the episodes is to bring [a] community into public hatred and disrepute,” which violates the Code.
- The court’s apprehensionis legitimate. Hateful memes can spread like wildfire across social media and promote, even incite violence.
- But, as Justice Chandrachud said, perhaps self-regulation — an oxymoronit may be — needs to be explored more rigorously.
- Giving prior restraint the imprimaturof the highest court, the bench sets a dangerous precedentat a time when a lynch mob is just one comment away.
- Motivated parties would only have to file an objection in court for restraint to be clamped, prior to airing the programme, until the matter is heard — and a court could rule for restraint to continue.
- Since news has a very short shelf life that is counted in hours, a mere allegation made in court could kill a programme.
- Significantly, the Court took a dig at the News Broadcasters’ Association whose remit includes legal, ethical and regulatory concerns.
- It asked if the body exists only in the form of its letterhead. In that aside, the Court tacitly indicated where one solution may lie.
- Show vilifies Muslims but prior restraint sets a dangerous precedent when dissent is being criminalised — and courts are fumbling.
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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Material
Q.1) With reference to the Hypersonic Test Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV), consider the following statements:
1. The hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology was successfully demonstrated by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
2. It will lead to the development of hypersonic cruise missiles and vehicles in future.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) The media does play a vital role in our democracy, and if we cannot depend on journalistic ethics, the nation's in trouble. Comment.