Decks for the telecast of a TV crime show allegedly based on teachers recruitment scam in Haryana were today cleared by the Supreme Court today with a caveat that there should be no reference to convicted persons including former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and 54 others.
Some of the convicted persons including Chautala had sought a direction to restrain Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Television in India, from airing the episode of its programmeCrime Patrol Dastak in which the story based on the scam was to feature.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also said the programme should not indicate that Chautala and others have been convicted in the Junior Basic Trained (JBT) teachers scam of the year 2000.
“The channel should make effort to camouflage the actual characters in the serial,” the bench, also comprising Justice AR Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen, said.
The apex court passed directions while dismissing the appeal filed by Chautala and other convicts against the order of a division bench of the Delhi High Court which had set aside the order of its single judge bench restraining telecast of the TV show.
The bench had earlier wanted to know from the channel whether it was willing to delete the use of certain words like bribe etc in the script which has been objected to by Chautala and others.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, had said “there would be no allusion or innuendo to bribe” in the show.
The apex court had also wanted to know whether the TV channel was ready to telecast the programme with a disclaimer at the beginning that the case against Chautala and others is pending in the Delhi High Court where they have challenged their conviction.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for all the convicts, had said the matter concerns balancing the right of freedom of speech and expression and rights of the accused.
He had said telecast of the show would prejudice their case in the high court as it would create a perception in the minds of the viewing public that they are guilty and also amounts to interference with the administration of justice as it is akin to trial by media.
Rohatgi had said the promo of the programme clearly showed reconstruction of the event and characters of the case in which the accused have been convicted.
He had said the trial court judgment has not said anything on bribe or exchange of money in the case.
Chautala, his then Officer on Special Duty Vidya Dhar and political advisor Sher Singh Badshami had moved the high court to stop telecast of the show on the ground that it would prejudice their case.
They had moved the high court against the conviction and ten-year jail term for their alleged roles in the recruitment of 3206 junior basic trained teachers in the state.