29, Jul 2022 | CJP Team
On July 28, 2022, CJP filed a complaint with News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) against Times Now for the three debate shows aired on their channel on June 25, 27 and 28, 2022 discussing the arrest of Teesta Setalvad.
CJP had raised an issue in this regard with Times Now in its complaint dated July 1, 2022 but the channel did not respond within the 14 days limitation period laid out by NBDSA. Therefore, CJP has now filed a complaint with NBDSA.
The tone, tenor and choice of words spoken as well as displayed on the screen during the three debate shows, suggested that the intention of the shows was to project Teesta Setalvad, a highly respected journalist and human rights defender, as someone unworthy of trust or compassion. The shows further sought to question her patriotism and credibility, and presented information about her in a manner that not only demeans and vilifies her, but also casts aspersions upon her humanitarian work.
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The hosts of the various shows, namely – Navika Kumar, Rahul Shivshankar, and Poonam Budre appeared biased towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons throughout the show. It appeared as if the host and the BJP supporters had teamed up against the other panelists who were at least individually making their valid points and voicing different opinions.
Even though the videos of the shows in question were deleted by YouTube for violation of its policies, CJP had already managed to download and transcribe some of the most incriminating excerpts from the entire telecasts of the shows. CJP had even urged the channel to provide a copy of the videos in its entirety to take up with the NBDSA but the channel failed to act upon it.
Following are the Times Now debate shows in question which began with sensationalist taglines during the broadcast:
25th June 2022- Teesta Setalvad arrested by Gujarat Crime branch; Plot nailed; plotters next?
27th June 2022- Was Teesta’s NGO given money? Did Congress plotted (sic) conspiracy against Modi?
28th Jube 2022- Teesta Setalvad exposed; Rules bent to grant funds, proof of Congress patronage uncovered.
The complaint re-iterated that claims made by the channel insinuating that Teesta Setalvad had been proven guilty, or there is sufficient evidence against her to prove her guilty, clearly amounted to a media trial which is not permissible in law.
As per the complaint, when the debate shows in question are viewed in entirety, it can be seen how the sensationalist taglines and tickers flashed during the broadcasts, create a certain perception amongst the public and must therefore be used carefully especially in controversial matters.
The complaint relied upon the following judicial precedents in support of its case which held that conducting media trials is against the law:
Nilesh Navalakha v. Union of India, [2021 SCC OnLine Bom 56]
Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi) [(2010) 6 SCC 1]
The complaint urged for the following:
- Direct Times Now to issue a public apology on its channel for conducting a media trial and spreading misinformation while abdicating its duty to present verified news to its viewers. This apology should be widely telecast and displayed commensurate to the coverage and promotion of the initial broadcast itself.
- Direct Times Now to refrain from broadcasting or posting any such content which would interfere with the fair trial of a person.
- Take any other action against Times Now that it may deem appropriate.
YouTube videos reappear, CJP sends revised complaint
The complaint maybe read here: