Centre Finalising Decision on Sudarshan, Case Adjourned to 26 Oct
The Supreme Court was to resume hearing in the Sudarshan News ‘UPSC Jihad’ case on Monday, 5 October.
On Monday, 5 October, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing in the Sudarshan News 'UPSC Jihad' case to 26 October, after the Centre informed the court that it was finalising its decision on the episodes of the show broadcast by the channel.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the judges that the issue had been forwarded to the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) by the central government, which had given its recommendations on the matter on 4 October after hearing from a representative of the channel on the 1st.
The I&B Ministry stated in a letter to the court that they need to give Sudarshan News a second hearing to address the recommendations by the IMC, including for future programs, which is to take place at 11 am on 6 October. The judges and lawyers for other parties involved in the case agreed to the adjournment, though the hearing will have to take place after the apex court’s Dussehra vacation.
At the last hearing on 23 September, the Solicitor General had informed the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra, and KM Joseph that the show cause notice had been sent by the I&B Ministry, giving the channel till 28 September to explain how its four episodes alleging a conspiracy by Muslims to ‘infiltrate’ the bureaucracy were not a violation of the code.
They will also have to explain why action should not be taken against them under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995. Mehta therefore suggested that the court take the matter up again only after the 28th. The court agreed to postpone the hearing to 5 October.
The Centre had asked Sudarshan News to send a representative to answer their questions about the show, by editor in chief Suresh Chavanke, on 1 October. It is unclear if the Ministry has made a decision on the matter just yet.
The matter is set to be heard by a slightly different bench going forward. Justice Indira Banerjee has come in in place of Justice KM Joseph, after the latter joined Justice Rohinton Nariman on his bench.
Bigger Issues Still to be Taken Up
During the previous hearing, advocate Shahrukh Alam, appearing for one of the intervenors, had argued that there were continuing violations of fundamental rights involved, and therefore the matter should not be postponed. She acquiesced to the adjournment, after the judges had agreed the bigger issues would still be heard.
Advocate Gautam Bhatia, representing one of the other intervenors, had also noted during that last hearing that the court was looking at some of the bigger issues on regulation of hate speech and so arguments on this should continue regardless of the court’s decision. Justice Chandrachud agreed this would be the case.
The court also clarified that its interim order preventing any further broadcasts by the channel on the issue, passed on 15 September, would continue to be in force.
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