SC Issues Notice To NBA In Plea Seeking Action Against Media For Communalising Tablighi Jamaat Event

by Sidharth Pandey 9 months ago Views 1152

SC Issues Notice To NBA Over Communalising Tabligh
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and sought a report from the Press Council of India over a plea seeking action against sections of the media for communalising the coverage of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi.

Close to 100 complaints have been received by the National Broadcasters Association over the role of the media in this issue, the counsel for the NBA today informed the bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde. The Chief Justice said that the court was inclined to hear the expert body on this issue.

Appearing for the lead petitioner, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Senior advocate Dushyant Dave pressed for judicial intervention by the top court. He said that despite this matter being taken up in May by the Supreme Court, which asked for responses from the Centre in 2 weeks, a reply was only filed in August.

The Press Council of India also informed the court that the council had taken cognisance in over 50 cases linked to the coverage of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi. Hearing this, Chief Justice Bobde asked the Press Council to also file a general report on the matter. The court said that it would go into the report and then decide on specific cases.

In March this year, more than 2000 people are believed to have been sheltering or visiting the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizammudin area when Prime Minister Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus. While the majority of those attending were from Indian states, hundreds of international visitors had also visited or believed to have stayed in the Jamaat’s building. Over a thousand people those who stayed or had attended or had links with those at the religious gathering had tested positive for Covid-19 earning the Tablighi Jamaat meeting the term ‘super spreader’.

While there had been widespread condemnation including from Muslim clerics of the large gathering at the Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters which had resulted in a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Jamaat had claimed that its members were caught unawares due to the sudden announcement of the nationwide lockdown by the Prime Minister. There had also been condemnation of the attempts to try and turn the mishandling of the Tablighi meeting into propaganda against the Muslim Community. Mr Dave today informed the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Modi had also appealed to the people ‘not to communalise COVID’ and that ‘this needed to be addressed’. He stated that the Centre in its reply had said that the ‘media cannot be gagged’ and that the petition was seeking a blanket ban on the media from reporting the event and the fallout.

The Centre in its affidavit had stated that a blanket ban being sought on the media “will meddle with freedom of Indians to know about various sections of the nation & the right of the journalists to ensure an informed society”.

Urging the court to issue directions, Mr Dave informed the court that "only the Government can act and the Government has not done anything at all". The Chief Justice then informed Mr Dave “of course they won't act unless directed to. That is our experience”.

The Supreme Court while impleading the National Broadcasting Federation in the case has asked for replies to be filed within 2 weeks when it will take up the case.

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