Balance needed between free speech & dignity: SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: A week after suspending telecast of a programme on Sudarshan TV for allegedly maligning the Muslim community, the Supreme Court on Monday indicated that a pre-telecast ban violated the fundamental right to free speech and said it would attempt to evolve a regulatory concept that would protect free speech and dignity of a community.
Appearing for a few media organisations, advocate Sai Deepak told a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph that a pre-telecast ban order against Sudarshan TV could be a directive in a single case, but coming from the highest court of the country, it would have a “chilling effect” on free speech of media as a whole.
The bench said, “You are spot on. We must look into the chilling effect of our order. That is why we are seriously concerned about striking a balance between free speech, dignity of community and individual rights. When a court passes a restraint on publication or telecast of a report, it is not like prohibiting someone from infringing copyright. In a telecast, what can the court injunct? Can the court get into the specifics of beard, skull cap and green T-shirt? We should not be very specific so as to hurt free speech under Article 19.”
Senior advocate Shyam Divan had earlier assured the court that the channel would carry out changes in the ‘Bindas Bol’ programme to assuage the hurt feeling of the Muslim community. On Monday, however, Sudarshan TV’s counsel Vishnu Jain informed the SC that the channel would adhere to the programme code and would promise nothing more.

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