SC asks Zakat Foundation if it will intervene in Sudarshan TV case as channel alleges terror-linked funding
The Supreme Court asked Zakat Foundation whether it wanted to intervene in the Sudarshan TV case following allegations of foreign funding from some terror linked organisations to its Indian set up
The Supreme Court Friday asked Zakat Foundation, an NGO which provides training to largely Muslims students aspiring for civil services, whether it wanted to intervene in the Sudarshan TV case following allegations of foreign funding from some terror linked organizations to its Indian set up.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph told senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the Zakat Foundation, that the affidavit of Sudarshan TV has allegations of foreign funding against his client.
Hegde said his client is a charitable organization and has been supporting non-Muslims as well and this kind of social service is not known even in government circles.
The bench told Hegde that some Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) records with regard to foreign funding have been filed by the TV channel and it is upon his client to intervene in the matter or not.
Hegde said Zakat foundation does not conduct any residential programmes and only pays the fees of the IAS coaching classes.
The top court was hearing a plea which has raised a grievance over Sudarshan TVs Bindas Bol' programme with the channel promo claiming it would show the 'big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service'.
In its affidavit filed by Sudarshan TV through its Editor in-Chief, the channel has said: The Answering Respondent (Suresh Chavhanke) has used the words UPSC Jehad because it has come to the knowledge... through various sources that Zakat Foundation has received funds from various terror-linked organizations.
"It is not that all contributors to the Zakat Foundation are terror-linked. However, some of the contributors are linked to organizations or are organizations that fund extremist groups. The funds received by the Zakat Foundation, in turn, are used to support aspirants for IAS, IPS or UPSC, it had said.
The affidavit had further said when it comes to light through various sources that funds contributed by tainted organizations are being used to facilitate people joining UPSC, there is a serious issue requiring public debate, discussion and scrutiny...
There is no statement or message in the four episodes broadcast that members of a particular community should not join UPSC. UPSC is an open competitive examination and members of every community may participate in the entrance examination and qualify.., the journalist said in his 91-page affidavit.
In the response to the plea filed by lawyer Firoz Iqbal Khan, seeking banning of the programmes, the channel said the thrust of its episodes was that there appeared to be a conspiracy which needed "to be investigated by NIA or CBI as the terror linked organizations were apparently funding the Foundation in India, which in turn has been supporting Muslim UPSC aspirants.
Earlier, in the day, the channel, which is facing legal proceedings in the top court, has moved an application seeking live telecast of hearing of the plea.
It had on September 15, restrained the channel from telecasting the episodes of 'Bindas Bol' till further orders saying that the intent of the episodes prima facie appeared to vilify the Muslim community.
The application filed by Sudarshan News through its Director and editor Suresh Chavhanke said, It is respectfully submitted that present case is one of the most important cases concerning the public at large as the question of freedom of press protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India is involved.
It said that lakhs and crores of viewers of the channel wants to know about the legal proceedings conducted before this Court and they want to hear the points of arguments being raised by the parties.
Direct for Live of the Proceedings of this case through audio-visual broadcasting/telecasting universally by an official agency as the court may deem fit and proper, the application said.
The hearing in the matter is going on.