Court Lifts Ban on Assam TV Serial Accused of Promoting ‘Love Jihad’


Begum Jaan, Assamese TV serial, promo. — Facebook photo

The police commissioner ‘was clearly not justified in suspending telecast of the serial’, says a single-judge bench of Guwahati High Court

Clarion India

GUWAHATI – The Gauhati High Court has lifted ban on Assamese TV serial Begum Jaan. The ban was imposed last fortnight by Guwahati police commissioner following complaints by certain right-wing forces who had found it promoting ‘love jihad’.

A single judge bench of Justice Suman Shyam on Thursday, acting on a petition by AM Television and its managing director Sanjive Narain, lifted the two-month ban.

Based on four complaints from Hindu Jagaran Manch that the serial hurt religious sentiments and used content derogatory towards one religion, the police commissioner had banned it on August 24 for two months and issued a show cause notice to AM Television.

A 10-member content monitoring committee headed by the city police chief had ruled the serial hurts religious sentiments. But the judge noted that the committee took the decision without hearing the affected parties and without following the procedure under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1994. The court order came on a petition by AM Private Television Ltd, owner of Rengoni TV.

Challenging the ban issued on recommendation of a monitoring committee, the petitioners informed the court that the order violated guidelines issued by Government of India as the committee didn’t include a representative from electronic media.

After the serial was banned for two months, the lead actor was trolled on social media with threats of acid attack and rape, after which the Guwahati Police came under criticism for not acting against the threats.

The serial tells a fictional story of a Hindu girl who fights against societal stereotypes with the help of a Muslim man.

The court said the managing director of the channel should ensure that any content that may hurt religious sentiment should be “deleted” before telecast this time.

Though the state government agreed that the monitoring committee was not formed under its latest guidelines – meaning the committee could be illegal – it said the committee did not have any bearing on the order to ban the channel as the Police Commissioner was “competent” to pass the order.

After examining records, the court found contentions of the petitioners to be true and castigated the police commissioner for issuing the ban without following laid down guidelines.

“The respondent number 4 (Guwahati police commissioner) was clearly not justified in suspending telecast of the serial by an ex parte blanket order without giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioners to explain their stand or recording any cogent reason for doing so,” the order read.


Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.


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