The Delhi High Court has refused to prohibit astrology-based shows on television while saying it was not in its domain to prescribe what the programming code should be.
A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw, which was hearing a petition filed by NGO Sai Lok Kalyan Sanstha, said since there was already a regulatory mechanism in place, thus any direction in this regard is not required.
“As far as astrology is concerned, astrology/ zodiac/ prediction/ forecast are to be found not only on television but also in the print and news media. Astrology is a subject being taught in the universities and is not confined to India alone.
“In fact the most popular international publication on ‘forecast’ is of a foreign author named Linda Goodman. We therefore do not find it appropriate to also prohibit astrological programmes/ advertisements to the extent they are not in violation of the Programme Code and the Advertising Code,” the bench said.
It also held that the petitioner is required to either approach the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or the Advertising Standards Council of India or the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council or the authorised officer under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act for the redressal of his grievance.
“As far as the programmes based on astrology are concerned, the Legislature/ government having laid down the Programme Code and the Advertising Code, it is not in the domain of this court to prescribe as to what the code should be,” the bench added.
The plea filed by Ajay Gautam, president of the NGO, had alleged that “huge amount of money is changing hands and the physical and mental well being of citizen is at stake”.
“The existing laws and regulation have proved totally inadequate to check all these superstitions. These programs also do not derive any validity from the established religious institutions,” it said.
The petition had also sought direction to stop the “illegal activities” of the television channels which are continuing their business in violation of various acts, rules, regulations and guidelines, issued by the ministry of information and broadcasting.
It had alleged that “in this process of making money, many channels have compromised with ethics, and are also acting in breach of rules and law particularly provisions of Drugs and Magic Remedy Act and rules framed under Cable Television Network Regulation Act framed by Information and Broadcasting Ministry”.