Former civil servants urge Home, I&B Ministers to take action against Sudarshan TV

Sep 2, 2020
New Delhi:  In a snowballing of the controversy over “UPSC jihad”, a group of 91 former civil servants have written to Home Minister Amit Shah and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar seeking legal and administrative action against Sudarshan New TV channel and said that is completely perverse to allege that there is a conspiracy to infiltrate Muslim officers into the services, or to use terms like UPSC Jihad or Civil Services Jihad in this connection.

“These communal and irresponsible statements amount to hate speech and are defamatory of an entire community,” the signatories to the letter said.

The letter is addressed to Home Minister, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Minorities Commission Chairman, Union Public Service Commission Chairman, News Broadcasting Standards Authority, Lt Governor, Delhi Chief Minister, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

“We are raising, through this letter, an urgent issue regarding the proposed telecast of a communally charged, divisive and sensational series by Sudarshan News TV channel. This series claims to be an expose of a conspiracy in the recruitment process that has resulted in a sudden increase in the number of Muslim officers selected for the two most prestigious services in the country, the IAS and the IPS,” the former civil servants said.

“Jamia Millia Islamia has been singled out in this context. We understand that the Delhi High Court has granted an interim stay on the telecast. However, we feel stronger legal and administrative action is warranted,” they demanded seeking action against the news channel.

“It is completely perverse to allege that there is a conspiracy to infiltrate Muslim officers into the services, or to use terms like UPSC Jihad or Civil Services Jihad in this connection. These communal and irresponsible statements amount to hate speech and are defamatory of an entire community,” the letter said.

The telecast of the programme, if allowed, will generate hatred towards the largest minority community in the country, viz. Muslims, without having any basis in fact. The country is already smouldering with hate speech against Muslims, including allegations of Corona Jihad and Love Jihad, which various courts have found to be false. This telecast will add further fuel to that fire, the signatories to the letter said.

They also claimed that it will tar the impeccable reputation of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the premier organisation for civil service recruitment, by claiming that it is biased in its recruitment processes.

“It will spread a false belief about a disproportionate increase in the number of Muslims being selected for government services, especially for the IAS and IPS,” the letter added.

“The use of terms like “UPSC jihad” and “Civil Services jihad” are an attempt to divide the civil administration of the country along religious lines and undermines the excellent contributions made by administrators across the board to the development of India,” they said.

In a recent judgement on the same matter, the Supreme Court, while not granting a stay on the telecast of the programme, has stated “We note that under statutory provisions, competent authorities are vested with powers to ensure compliance with law, including provisions of the criminal law intended to ensure social harmony and the peaceful coexistence of all communities.”

“We, therefore, urge the Union Home Ministry, the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, the Chief Minister, Delhi and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to order the lodging of FIRs under the relevant legal provisions. We also request the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority of India to investigate whether or not the show would run afoul of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, read with the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, and the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and take suitable action,” they demanded.

The letter is signed by Najeeb Jung, Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser, Rahul Khullar, Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Harsh Mander, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Anita Agnihotri, Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, K. Saleem Ali, Former Special Director, CBI.

The other signatories include Salahuddin Ahmad, Former Chief Secretary, Rajasthan, Anand Arni, Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Sharad Behar, Former Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, Javid Chowdhury, Former Health Secretary, P.R. Dasgupta, Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, Nareshwar Dayal, former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Nitin Desai, Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Keshav Desiraju, Former Health Secretary, P.K. Lahiri, Former Secretary (Revenue), and former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank.

The letter is also signed by S.Y. Quraishi IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Election Commissioner, Jawhar Sircar, Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and former CEO, Prasar Bharati Amitabha Pande, Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, P.G.J. Nampoothiri, Former Director General of Police, Government of Gujarat, Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board and Narendra Sisodia, Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance among others. IANS