Muslim body moves SC, seeks hearing of 2020 PIL on fake news regarding Tablighi Jamaat

New Delhi: A Muslim organisation Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking a final hearing of its 2020 PIL which had sought a direction to the Centre to stop the dissemination of fake news and strict action against a section of media for allegedly spreading communal hatred by portraying Tablighi Jamaat congregation as a reason for the spread of COVID-19.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, on whose plea the apex court has issued notices to the Centre and others including the Press Council of India in May 2020, has sought an urgent hearing of its plea in the backdrop of upcoming assembly polls in five states.

It is submitted that the present matter has assumed particular importance because elections to the Legislative Assemblies of five states are being conducted presently. The dissemination of hate speech during electoral campaigns poses a grave threat to the peace and harmony in the country.

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The Applicants/Petitioners humbly submit that this court needs to give specific directions to control the dissemination of fake news and hate speeches and the matter needs to be heard urgently, said the plea which was filed through lawyer Ejaz Maqbool.

The dissemination of fake news and hate speech poses a grave danger to the lives and liberties of a large section of citizens, it said, adding that the PIL was last listed for hearing on September 02, last year and since then, it has not come up for hearing.

The date on the case status on the website keeps changing constantly. The present status for the listing of the matter as per the website of this court is February 9, it said.

The PIL had sought direction to the Central Government to stop the dissemination of fake news and take strict action against the sections of the media spreading bigotry and communal hatred concerning the Nizamuddin Markaz issue.

It had also sought direction to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to identify and take strict action against sections of the media that were communalising the Nizamuddin Markaz issue.

Issue a writ in the nature of mandamus, or any other writ, order or direction holding the Cable Television Network (Amendment) Rules, 2021 amending the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 as unconstitutional and thereby struck down, it said.

On September 2 this year, a bench headed by CJI N V Ramana had said that a section of media gives communal colour to news bringing a bad name to the country.

Prior to this, it, while issuing the notice on the PIL, had directed that the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) be also made a party to the plea.

As per the media reports, at least 9,000 people had participated in the religious gathering at Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in Nizamuddin West in 2020 and the congregation became a key source for the spread of COVID-19 in India as many of the participants had traveled to various parts of the country for missionary works.

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