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'TV Channels Sensationalise, Can Audience Understand Agenda?' SC on Hate Speech

The Supreme Court, while hearing a bunch of petitions seeking action against hate speech.

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“This (hate speech) is a complete menace and nothing short of it,” Supreme Court Justice KM Joseph observed on Friday, 13 January, as a bench of Justices Joseph and BV Nagarathna heard a batch of petitions seeking action against hate speech.

Among other things, the bench lamented the divisions the visual medium creates in the society. They added:

“They (TV channels) sensationalise…Freedom of speech and expression is important. Problem with freedom is it is about the audience. Can the audience dish out or understand the agenda. Agenda is serving someone else. Then there is money behind the channel. The point also is who puts money, they will dictate."

What did the court say about TV anchors? Emphasising on the consequence of the role of the TV program anchor, the court also asked the News Broadcasters and Digital Association:

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“If the anchors of TV program are themselves part of the problem then what can be done? NBSA should not be biased. How many times have you taken off anchors?"

The petitions? According to Livelaw, the apex court is presently hearing petitions filed against:

  • Sudarshan News TV’s ‘UPSC Jihad’ show

  • The ‘corona jihad’ campaign at the beginning of the pandemic

  • Hate-speech (rife with anti-Muslim statements) that was allegedly made at several Dharam Sansad meeting

The petitions have also sought broad guidelines to curb the spread of hate speech.

Previously… In October, a bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy had observed that "there cannot be fraternity unless different religious communities are available to live in harmony" and directed the police to take suo motu action against hate speech, regardless of the religion of the speaker.

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar and Bench.)

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Topics:   Supreme Court   Hate Speech 

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