Author Kota Neelima has moved an application in the Supreme Court in the Sudarshan News matter, citing a study, which says close to 70 per cent of debates conducted by journalists Arnab Goswami and Navika Kumar focused on the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
In an application filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, Neelima cited that ‘Rate the Debate’ (independent research platform) evaluated the content of the news discussion, and debates undertaken by the two journalists, Arnab Goswami of The Republic, and Navika Kumar of TimesNow, who have been engaging themselves in conducting “media trials”.
“The study shows that 65 percent of the total debates conducted by Arnab Goswami from July 31 to September 15, and 69 per cent of the total debates conducted by Navika Kumar from June 16 to October 6, were on a singular topic i.e. Sushant Singh Rajput Death Case,” said the application.
The study cites the detailed analysis of 32-week days news content, 55 hours of programming and 76 debate topics conducted by Goswami and 24 days of news content, 20 hours of programming and 32 debate topics conducted by Kumar.
“Not only an overwhelming and inordinate amount of time is devoted to a single topic, the manner, tone, tenor and content of the ‘News Coverage’ and ‘TV Debate’ was highly toxic, polarised and filled with innuendos, salacious gossips, wild allegations and character assassinations,” added the application. Neelima had earlier intervened in the matter.
The application said the Sushant Singh Rajput death case presents a disturbing case-study of the modus-operandi employed by such TV anchors.
“Firstly, they deliberately create a hypothesis or a false construct/premise, for example, Sushant Singh Rajput was murdered and did not commit suicide. They will then insinuate that a top politician or a powerful personality is behind the ‘cover-up’,” said the application.
After this, conspiracy theories begin to roll out to convince the viewer of the hypothesis even before the prosecuting agency has completed its investigation and filed its charge sheet, it said.
“Media Trials is another facet of Hate Speech. Media Trials can take place for a variety of reasons, for instance, it can be in order to grab a higher share of Television Rating Points (TRPs) or it can be something more sinister whereby certain private television channels act as proxy propaganda machines for the Central government,” said the application.
The bench is likely to hear the Sudarshan News matter on October 26.
On October 5, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that the Inter-Ministerial Committee in its recommendation has given certain additional recommendations in connection with Sudarshan Tv News programme “UPSC Jehad”. The Centre said it is duty-bound to give one more opportunity to the news channel to make a representation in accordance with these recommendations.