The Supreme Court on Tuesday (15 September) said that India is a melting pot of diverse cultures and there should be some kind of self-regulation in the media, and the journalists should be fair in their debates.
The strong comments came from the top court while hearing a plea against Sudarshan TV for its show 'UPSC Jihad', which focuses on how Muslims have "infiltrated" the Indian civil service.
A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph reminded that journalistic freedom is not absolute, adding that a journalist has freedom just like any other citizen and no separate freedom like in the United States (US).
Slamming the TV channel, the bench told its counsel, "Your client is doing a disservice to the nation by not accepting that India is a melting pot of diverse cultures. Your client needs to exercise his freedom with caution."
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing Sudarshan TV, submitted that the channel says that the programme is an investigative story on national security.
"We need journalists who are fair in their debates," noted the bench.
"How rabid is this programme that one community is entering into civil services," the bench observed while pointing out that such shows make people switch off their TVs.
The court said that if the media failed to realise this, they will be out of business. "In the end, quality matters," it observed.
Criticising the show further, the apex court said the programme also casts aspersions on the UPSC civil services examination and its subject is insinuating.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the freedom of journalists is supreme and it would be disastrous for any democracy to control the Press.
The hearing in the matter will continue.
Earlier, the apex court had declined to impose a pre-broadcast ban on the show, and issued notice to the Centre. The petitioners had argued that the programme content would stoke communal tensions.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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