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India: News Broadcasting Standards Authority holds ZEE news channel liable for their false, malicious and distorted coverage of 2016 poetry recitation by Gauhar Raza

1 September

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1 September 2017

Urgent PRESS RELEASE

Mr. Gauhar Raza, an eminent scientist and poet, was maligned, defamed and hate engineered against him by the malicious, concocted and motivated news telecast carried by Zee News in March, 2016. Mr. Raza was branded as a part of an “Afzal Premi Gang” for reciting his poems in the ‘Shankar - Shaad Mushaira’.

A complaint was then filed by Mr. Raza with the News Broadcasting Standards Authority against Zee News along with another joint complaint filed by eminent artists like Mr. Ashok Vajpeyi, Ms. Shubha Mudgal, Ms. Sharmila Tagore and Dr. Syeda Hameed. Advocate Vrinda Grover argued on behalf of Gauhar Raza and other complainants.

The NBSA, vide its order, has upheld the constitutional right of Mr. Raza to freedom of speech as well as his right to dissent, and held that media house Zee News cannot use their might to intimidate citizens and prevent them from exercising their constitutional right to dissent and freedom of expression.

Upholding the rights of Mr. Gauhar Raza, ZEE news channel has been held liable for their false, malicious and distorted coverage. NBSA has directed that

• to publish an Apology on 08.09.2017 at 09:00 pm on their channel, in Hindi text, in large font size, on full screen, and a clearly audible vioce over in slow speed

• Fine of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid in 7 days.

The NBSA has awarded the highest punishment in its jurisdiction, reaffirming that big media houses cannot trample over the rights of citizens to freedom of speech and expression, which includes the right to dissent.

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SEE GLIMPSES FROM THE NBSA ORDER