New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) Sudarshan News on Friday told the Supreme Court its show on “big expose of a conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service”, is based on “solid facts” that the Zakat Foundation has received funds from various terror-linked organisations.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing Sudarshan News, contended before a bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph that funds received by the Zakat Foundation, in turn, are used to support aspirants for UPSC exams, but it is not that all contributors to it are terror-linked.
The TV channel submitted that if a news channel is raising an objection to Muslim taking benefit of OBC quota, it cannot be termed communal, as these questions and these debates are in public domain.
Its affidavit said that the “respondent has just raised a question as to how benefit of minority scheme along with Muslim OBCs are taken simultaneously and the same amounts to discrimination against the other segments of the society”, adding that the channel compared the maximum age of a candidate who can attempt the UPSC, and that is for general candidate, it is 32 years but for Muslim OBC candidate, it is 35 years.
Divan argued that his client endeavoured to expose the “anti-national activities” and the manner in which some persons are being recruited in the civil services. He argued that the facts have been investigated and then they have been collated, and his client has fundamental right to free speech and expression and entitled to project these on the TV.
“The thrust of the programme is that there appears to be a conspiracy which needs to be investigated by the NIA or the CBI. It appears that terror-linked organisations are funding the Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI), which in turn is supporting the UPSC aspirants,” the TV channel said in its affidavit.
Divan cited the slide show made by Syed Zafar Mahmood, founder of ZFI, on Kashmir, and argued that since he has the right to his freedom of speech, then his client also has a right to criticise that speech.
He submitted before the bench all these issues — terror-funding, foreign funding etc — are things which the public is entitled to know.
Citing a top court verdict, Divan contended that as far as freedom of speech and prior restraint is concerned, that is not employed in the context of a TV broadcast. “Nothing in the law, which allows prior restraint till date,” he argued.