New Delhi, Sep 21: The Supreme Court on Monday reacted sharply to an affidavit by Sudarshan News, citing channel NDTV’s programme titled “Hindu Terror: Myth or fact” anchored by Barkha Dutt and broadcast on September 17, 2008, as it sought to justify its programme titled “UPSC Jehad”.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph told advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing Sudarshan News, that the court would have to stop asking questions, if counsel begin to shoot their mouth off.
As Jain mentioned the NDTV show, Justice Chandrachud asked him if the bench had told him to comment on it.
“This is contrary to judicial practice. Just because we ask you a question does not mean that you file an affidavit. If in 2032, someone seeks to question what you had broadcast in 2022?….there is something called lapse of time,” he said.
The bench asked Jain two specific questions: Did he think his client complied with the programme code in the broadcast of first four episodes of the programme title “UPSC Jehad”; and, is his client inclined to continue in the same manner in the remaining five episodes of the programme.
To the first question, Jain replied; “Yes, I have complied with the programme code.” On the second question, he cited the foreign funding of Zakat Foundation and the alleged attempt to capture the bureaucracy.
Jain contended before the bench that it should see all the four episodes and evaluate each minute, and then decide if any law has been violated. He also argued that the intervention applications in the matter have distorted the facts of the channel’s case.
At this, Justice Chandrachud replied: “If you check the line of civilised jurisprudence, then in no case of injunction, the counsel read all 700 pages of a contentious novel to the judge line by line to satisfy them. That has been the precedent and we don’t want to deviate.”
In an additional affidavit, Sudharshan News had said: “The deponent was shocked and pained when on September 17, 2008, NDTV (English News Channel) had broadcast a programme anchored by Barkha Dutt titled as ‘Hindu Terror: Myth or fact’.”
It argued that in this programme just adjacent to the caption, “Hindu’ Terror: Myth or fact?”, a Hindu saint was shown with ’tilak’ and ‘chillam’ and also a ‘trishul’ (one of most sacred symbols for Hindus and associated with most revered deity of the Hindus (Lord Shiva).
“I further submit that NDTV had also broadcast on August 26, 2010 a programme, again anchored by Barkha Dutt titled as “Is ‘Saffron Terror’ real?” In the said programme a Hindu cultural gathering was shown in saffron colour clothes,” the affidavit said.
This additional affidavit has been filed in the ongoing case, where the apex court had stayed the broadcast of the remaining five episodes of a programme series “Bindas Bol” with the tagline “UPSC Jehad”.