New Delhi: Two Congress leaders’ families have moved the Supreme Court seeking to intervene in the Sudarshan News case. The families say the present state of the electronic media bears “unhappy and undesirable parallels with Nazi Germany”.
The applicants include the widow of Congress politician Rajiv Tyagi who died recently of a heart attack after participating in a TV debate, and Congress spokesman Pawan Khera’s wife. The applicants urged the top court not to give the benefit of Article 19 of the Constitution – freedom of speech and expression to such TV anchors and purveyors/peddlers of “hate speeches”.
“Any protection under Article 19 of the Constitution of India to such TV Debates/TV Anchors is destructive of not only of Article 19 itself, but of our very constitutional edifice,” contended the plea by Sangeeta Tyagi and Kota Neelima in the plea filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes.
The applicants said Tyagi was a victim of hate speech in a TV debate on August 12 before dying of a heart attack. “The situation of the electronic media in our country, in the most respectful submission of the applicants, bears unhappy and undesirable parallels with Nazi Germany, at least with regards to ‘Hate Speeches’ in the electronic media”, said the plea.
The applicants submitted that the programme ‘Bindaas Bol’ unequivocally and unambiguously answers to the definition of a “hate speech”. “However, this broadcast, by the TV anchor Suresh Chavhanke is emblematic of a larger, insidious malady that has infected the electronic media of our country i.e. the propensity of TV anchors to shamelessly indulge in ‘Hate Speeches’ via the medium of so-called TV debates on Prime Time,” contended the plea.
They also quoted Martin Niemoller, the German theologian and a Lutheran pastor: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me”.
The top court has stayed the first four episodes of the programme title ‘UPSC Jehad’, which focuses on the alleged infiltration of Muslims in the UPSC. The Centre has also issued show cause notice to Sudarshan News citing prima facie Programme Code violation.
The plea sought “appropriate, ameliorative and remedial directions/orders from this court to stem/quell and restrict this menace, till such time that the Legislature frames an appropriate legislation in this regard”.
The apex court is scheduled to hear the matter on October 5.