On Tuesday, the Supreme Court expressly showed their dissatisfaction regarding the counter-affidavit the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting filed against a petitions seeking action against the media outlets which pushed forward communal propaganda when Tablighi Jamaat members contracted COVID-19.
The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta:
“First you did not file a proper affidavit and then you filed an affidavit which did not deal with the two important questions. This way it cannot be done Mr Mehta,”
Recently, Jamiat Ulama I Hind filed a plea against the Union of India regarding the communalization of the Nizamuddin Markaz or Tablighi Jamaat incident by certain sections of the media. ABP called Tablighi Jamaat a “human bomb”, a sentiment many BJP leaders including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis echoed.
The plea requested the SC to direct the media as well as the Union government to not demonize Muslims for the spread of COVID-19. They were also seeking a constitution of an independent authority to regulate electronic media channels as electronic media does not come under the jurisdiction of Press Council of India.
The Union Government refuted their claim that media largely supported a communal narrative in their reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat incident. They also submitted to the Supreme Court that the Government had issued 743 orders of blocking fake or misleading content related to COVID-19 on social media that could disrupt public harmony.
Read More: Hindu Yuva Vahini Leader dies of COVID 19, had announced prize money to “catch” Tablighi Jamaat Attendees
Earlier. the SC had slammed the Centre’s affidavit in October as “evasive” and ” brazenly short of detail.” They had particularly criticized the Governments claim that there was “no bad reporting” and asked the Union to make a fresh affidavit.
But while the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to specify how the Cable TV Network Ac can be used to control the consent of Cable TV networks, their affidavit makes no mention of this. The CJI questioned what steps the Government plans to deal with complaints and suggested that if there is no regulatory mechanism then they should make one. If not, the SC will pass it on to an independent or private body.
We want to know as to what is the mechanism to deal with these contents on television. If there is no regulatory mechanism then you create one. Regulation cannot be left to organisation like NBSA
The matter will next be heard in three weeks.