The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued an advisory to Star One channel for using offensive words against one community an episode of its show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge - 2’, which was telecast on June 23, 2006. The Ministry has issued this advisory in response to a complaint that has alleged that the participants of the programme – Ali Hassan and Irfan – had made a derogatory remark against a particular community.
The Ministry has advised Star One channel not to repeat this offence in future and show better self-regulation in creation of programme content. It has asked the channel to ensure strict compliance to this direction and said that any further violation might entail stringent action, including taking the channel off air.
The advisory has been issued on the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) constituted by the I&B Ministry to look into the specific complaints against the violation of Programme and Advertising Codes. The complaint was examined by the IMC as to whether any violation of provisions of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 had taken place in the telecast of the said episode. After viewing the recordings of the programme, the Committee held unanimous opinion that the offensive word should not have been used by the participants. The channel should have rather exercised better restraint.
The IMC has also observed that though the participants, Ali Hassan and Irfan, had performed in the episode as fictional characters, the said intentional utterances, however, could not be brushed aside merely as comedy, as the utterances propagated practice of untouchability, which had been abolished under Article 17 of the Constitution of India. The Committee further observed that even if it was presumed that the participants being foreign nationals might have been oblivious of the implications of the utterances as fictional characters in the episode, the channel being responsible for telecast of this programme for public viewing, could not be absolved.
‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – 2’ episode telecast by Star One Channel on June 23, 2006, has been found to have violated Rule 6(1) (a), (c) and (i) of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Rules, 1994, which provide that no programme should be carried in the cable service, which offends good taste and decency; contains attacks on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes; criticises, maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the community.