New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India severely criticized the Central government for its failure to stop the provocative TV reporting in Tableeghi Jamaat’s congregation incident last year. Chief Justice Bobde observed that “preventing provocative reporting” is as necessary for the government as maintaining the law and order.
Citing the January 26 incident of suspending internet services, CJI Bobde emphasized the need for “fair and fact-based reporting” and added that the problem arises when the reporting is meant to incite a section of the society against other.
CJI Bobde bluntly told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that there were instances of provocative reporting and the government has not done anything to stop it.
CJI Bobde was heading a Bench included Justice A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanium hearing petitions that alleged that the media had violated all norms of journalistic conduct and had resorted to targeting Muslims, in their coverage of the Tablighi Jamaat gathering.
The petitions had also reportedly laid emphasis on the fact that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had not put an end to media’s smear campaign against the Muslim community, fulfilled its duty and gave equal protection of the law to all persons in India under Article 14 of the Constitution.
When senior advocate Dushyant Dave pointed out that the affidavit filed by the Centre says that the petition was trying to “muzzle freedom of speech”, CJI Bobde said, “They are entitled to make any argument like you people are. This freedom of speech may be the most abused freedom in recent times.”
The Supreme Court also criticised the government for getting a junior officer to file an “extremely offensive and brazen” response.