NEW DELHI— The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the representative body of private television news and current affairs channels, has also been made a party to the case filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind in the Supreme Court against the vilification of Tablighi Jamaat and the Muslim community in the wake of the Nizamuddin Markaz fiasco in March this year.
On the directions of the Supreme Court, Jamiat has made NBA a party to the case. Earlier, the top court had asked Jamiat to implead the Press Council of India also as a party to the case.
In the first week of April, Jamiat had moved the Supreme Court seeking action against TV channels, newspapers and social media which were communalising the incident of Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat from where around 2300 people were evacuated on March 30-31 and over 400 of them were later found to be infected with COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
The central government had imposed nationwide lockdown on March 24 in order to contain the spread of the epidemic. The government had halted operation of public and private transports except for emergency services; consequently, Tablighi members remained stranded in the complex that serves both as headquarters and mosque.
In its plea, Jamiat had accused media houses and government of labelling Tablighi Jamaat as “Coronavirus spreader”. Jamiat’s counsel Advocate Ejaz Maqbool had also cited some incidents of mob violence against members of the minority community as a result of the hatemongering on news media and social media.
Following the Markaz incident, the Delhi government also made specific mention of Markaz in its daily health bulletins on Coronavirus for 10 days till the Delhi Minority Commission intervened and asked the Arvind Kejriwal government to avoid such reference.
After the Markaz incident, around 2,000 members of Tablighi Jamaat were put in quarantine centres in Delhi. Even though they reported negative in several Coronavirus tests, they were kept there even after serving twice the mandatory period of 14 days. After media uproar, notices from the Delhi Minority Commission and court intervention, the government allowed them to go home in mid-May.
Last week (May 27), the top court had issued notices to Press Council and NBA asking them about actions, if any, it took against its member media houses over the controversial contents having potential to communalise the society. They are bound to respond by June 15.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Jamiat said it has formally made NBA a party to the case and filed a plea in the SC in this regard which was accepted. Jamiat has already impleaded Press Council in the case.
“On May 27, three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Rishikesh Rai had heard the case and senior lawyer Dushyant Dave (president, Supreme Court Bar Association) had argued on behalf of Jamiat. Following the hearing, the court had issued notice to central government and ordered to make NBA a party to the case,” said Gulzar Azmi, head of Jamiat’s Legal Cell.
“Now that NBA has been made party to the case, we are trying that the hearing is resumed the earliest,” he added.