Expressed strong disapproval on Zee News’ programme in 2020 against Shehla Rashid: NBDSA

NEW DELHI — The News Broadcasters and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) on Thursday told Delhi High Court that it has objected and “expressed strong disapproval” over a programme aired by Zee News in November 2020 against JNU Scholar Shehla Rashid, LiveLaw reported.

According to the report, Advocate Nisha Bhambhani appearing for NBDSA informed Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav that the authority had passed an order on May 31 last year directing the news channel to remove video of the broadcast from their website, YouTube and other links.

The counsel also said that NBDSA had directed Zee News to “exercise caution” in broadcasting similar programmes and not repeat such violations in future.

The court was hearing Shehla’s plea seeking unambiguous and unequivocal apology from Zee News and its then anchor Sudhir Chaudhary in relation to the programme.

She has sought modification of NBDSA’s order to the extent that it refused to direct the broadcaster to air an apology, while ruling that the show lacked objectivity and impartiality.

The court was informed by NBDSA’s counsel that the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) and Zee News have filed their replies in the matter and that the journalist will adopt response of the news channel.

Accordingly, the court granted four weeks’ time to Rashid for filing a rejoinder to the replies, while listing the case hearing on July 19.

Shehla Rashid had lodged a complaint with the NBDSA against the show aired on November 30, 2020 wherein her father had been interviewed making wild allegations against her, her sister and her mother.

It had also been imputed that Shehla Rashid was involved in terror funding. The complaint further alleged that the anchor himself had asserted that Shehla was involved in anti-national activities.

In an order dated March 31, 2022, NBDSA was of the view that the by allowing the interviewee i.e. the father of the complainant (Shehla Rashid) to air his allegations against the complainant, the channel had presented only one side of the story.

In her plea before high court, Shehla Rashid has submitted that an unreasoned refusal to issue an apology to her is wholly arbitrary and unsustainable in law.

“The public functions performed by the press & media are recognised by the State which, consequently, accords various rights & privileges to them, one of which was the right of self- regulation of news channels by Respondent No. 1 of which Respondent No. 2-4 are parts of. The power of self-regulation was to maintain credibility of news media by ensuring that there were no Government shackles in performing its functions as the fourth pillar of democracy,” the plea reads.

It adds, “The videos existing at present have been viewed by several people and has till date received more than 3800 reactions and has been shared by more than 500 people and continues to gather more views. Thus, merely taking down the videos will unfortunately not affect the impact that the broadcast had on the public nor remotely restore the dignity and reputation of the Petitioner which was damaged by the broadcast. Thus, an apology from the Respondent No.3-4 is essential to mitigate the damage caused to reputation of the Petitioner, which is manifestly caused by the violation of the public duty assumed by the Respondents.”