The Delhi High Court Monday sought the Centre’s response to two PILs that have alleged that a particular media house hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community through its reportage of the farmers’ protests.
The PILs claim that the media company has indulged in a "concocted", "offensive and potentially fatal" attack on the Sikh community by circulating unverified videos of the farmers’ tractor rally during Republic Day.
Violence ensued in the national capital on January 26 after clashes broke out between security personnel and farmers who have been protesting the Centre’s recent agriculture laws.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Press Council of India (PCI), News Broadcaster Association (NBA) and a media house, seeking their stand on the two pleas by February 26.
One petition has been moved by Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and the other by Delhi resident Manjit Singh G K, both claiming that the "Vicious campaign directed against a particular community at a time when public sentiments are flared up could result in disastrous consequences, including endangering the lives, property and liberty of members of that community.”
Dhindsa, the Shiromani Akali Dal MP, in his petition filed through advocate B S Bagga, and Manjit Singh, in his plea filed through advocate Parminder Singh Goindi, have contended that "allegations as made out in the said videos are absolutely untrue, baseless and a concoction of phantom imagination which bears no nexus to facts, whatsoever".
On what happened on Republic Day, the petitioners have claimed that "due to infiltration of the protests by certain anti-social and ill-motivated elements, the tractor rally was met by severe and brutal assaults by the police authorities and the anti-social and ill-motivated elements utilized the said opportunity to create ruckus amongst the public with the object of delegitimizing the protests".
They have claimed that the media house was showing a video in which one of its reporters was alleging that the protestors were involved in the destruction of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand tableaus which were featured on Republic Day.
The petitioners have further alleged that, "Such a vilification campaign directed by the news channel to incite hatred against the 'Sikh' community is absolutely reprehensible and could give rise to a serious law and order situation in the country including creating stigma and banishment of the 'Sikh' community.”
(With PTI inputs)