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A Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud is hearing a plea against the controversial Sudarshan TV's "UPSC Jihad" programme touted as a ''big expose on the conspiracy" regarding Muslims "infiltrating government service.''
When the matter had come up initially, the Court had refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban and issued notice to the Centre, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters Association and Sudarshan News.
Following extensive arguments in a later hearing, the Court passed an interim order directing Sudarshan TV to defer the broadcast of further shows.
The Court is also hearing a plea for an authoritative pronouncement on "hate speech" by former civil servants including Amitabha Pande and Navrekha Sharma, who have made an informal collective "Constitutional Conduct Group."
Counter-affidavits have been filed on behalf of the Central Government as well as Sudarshan TV. Sudarshan TV has further moved an application seeking the live telecast of the Court proceedings in the case, stating that lakhs and crores of viewers of Sudarshan TV want to know about the legal proceedings conducted before the top Court and "they want to hear the points of arguments being raised by the parties."
This apart, Sudarshan TV has filed an additional affidavit stating that it would follow all applicable laws while airing the remaining episodes of "UPSC Jihad" program and that it was pained by two NDTV shows around "Hindu and Saffron terror".
Before a hearing held last week, the Zakat Foundation of India, whom the Sudarshan TV has accused of having international terror links, has also filed an intervention application asserting that the channel has been "cherry-picking facts from publicly accessible documents on the internet and drawing unsustainable inference therefrom."
The top Court has now posed a question regarding how to distinguish the fine line between injuncting protected speech and hate speech. Can a constitutional court primarily delve into an issue which has allegations over a private player?
Arguments in the matter will continue today. In the meanwhile, Madhu Purnima Kishwar has sought to intervene in the plea as well, in which she has disputed the petitioner's submissions in so far as they rely on her purported statements made in the show. Kishwar has asserted that her impleadment is needed so that her "fundamental rights" are not compromised.
Live updates of the hearing today feature on this page.