Displeased SC asks Centre to create mechanism to deal with media reporting: Tablighi Jamaat case

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Displeased with the Centre’s response on media reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat held at Nizamuddin in March 2020, the Supreme Court asked it to create and apprise of the court of the regulatory mechanism. File photo

Displeased with the Centre’s response on media reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat held at Nizamuddin in March 2020, the Supreme Court asked it to create and apprise of the court of the regulatory mechanism.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, displeased with the Centre’s affidavit in the case related to media reporting of Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, said it should consider setting up a regulatory mechanism to deal with such content on TV. The apex court asked the Centre to create and apprise of it of the mechanism.

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 Mehta, the Chief Justice SA Bobde-headed bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Mehta, we are not satisfied with your reply, the top court said. 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, said the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

SC displeased with Centre’s response

The bench, which was hearing a plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind and others alleging that a section of the media was spreading communal hatred over Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of pandemic, asked the Centre to file a fresh affidavit dealing with mechanism to regulate electronic media under the Cable TV Network Act. The top court has posted the matter for hearing after three weeks.

Mehta said that a secretary-level officer will file a fresh affidavit and he would vet it.

The Jamaat Ulema-i-Hind had filed a petition against the communalisation of the Tablighi Jamaat gathering held in Nizamuddin area. It stated that the media had “demonised the Muslim community”. And it also sought strict action against those who spread bigotry and communal hatred.

Earlier, the SC noted that the Act only covers cable television signals. And it asked if the government had the power to ban such signals.

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