New Delhi, May 27 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday, directing the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) be made a party to the pleas alleging a section of media was demonising the Muslim community in connection with the Nizamuddin Markaz incident in Delhi, said: “We take all matters seriously.”
The statement came from a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy as counsel representing Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH), urged the top court to take the matter seriously. The bench said that “don’t repeat that these matters are serious”.
The bench issued notice to the Centre and the Press Council of India (PCI) and asked the authorities concerned to respond on the matter within two weeks.
“The petitioners (JUH and others) are directed to implead the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) as party respondent in the array of parties. Issue notice to all the respondents as also the newly added respondent(s). Let copies of these writ petitions be served upon the respondents by the petitioners during the course of the day. Mr. K.M. Nataraj, learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the respondent(s)-Union of India, prays for and is granted two weeks’ time to file reply affidavit,” it said.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on June 15.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the Muslim clerics body, contended before the bench that fake news damage the secular fabric of the nation and broadcast of such news make outs offences under the law. “Why is the government silent,” he submitted. As he urged the apex court to take action against the media organizations, the bench asked the PCI what action it has taken.
The apex court told the Centre’s counsel that do not let people instigate, as these things later become law and order issues. The bench also sought specific reply on the alleged violation of the Cable Television (Regulation) Act by the news channels.
On April 13, a bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and M.M Shantanagoudar said: “We will not gag the press.”
The observation from the apex court came on a plea by JUH seeking direction to the Centre to stop the dissemination of fake news and take strict action against the sections of the media spreading bigotry and communal hatred in connection with Nizamuddin Markaz. The bench, which heard the matter through video conferencing, asked the petitioners to implead the PCI as a party in the case and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
The pleas, filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, said: “By communalising the issue and demonising the entire Muslim community, the actions of the media pose a serious threat to the life and liberty of Muslims across the country. The demonisation is also an infringement of the right to live with dignity which is also covered under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
As the petitioner’s counsel claimed reports from certain sections of the media constantly talked about Tablighi spreading coronavirus in the country, the bench replied: “We think you should add the Press Council of India as a party to the case. It is a necessary party to this case, implead them, thereafter we will hear this.”