HC seeks Centre stand on PILs claiming misreporting of farmers protest on Republic Day

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre on two PILs which have alleged that a certain media house has indulged in a “concocted”, “offensive and potentially fatal” attack on the Sikh community by circulating unverified videos regarding the Republic Day protest by farmers on their news platforms.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice 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 channels 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”.