New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred till Thursday hearing of a petition seeking stay on telecast of a TV show, 'Crime Patrol Dastak', based on teachers recruitment scam in which former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and 54 others were convicted.

"Come tomorrow. Let us see what we can do," a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said after a brief hearing.

Chautala and other convicts have filed an appeal 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, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, 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 by Chautala and others.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Television in India, said "there would be no allusion or innuendo to bribe" in the show. He also said the entertainment channel was holding its telecast.

The Apex Court 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, said the matter concerns balancing the right of freedom of speech and expression and rights of the accused.

He 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 said the promo of the programme clearly shows the reconstruction of the event and characters of the case in which the accused have been convicted.

He said the channel should wait till April 4 when the High Court will hear the appeals and bail applications of convicts. Further, Rohatgi said the trial court judgement 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 Sony TV channel 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.


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