Shocked by the alleged disclosure of the identity of paramilitary personnel operating in sensitive areas and their family by a television channel, the Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to examine the matter and ensure safeguards before telecast. “It is a serious matter. How can the identity of a soldier be disclosed? This is really very shocking,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said. It directed the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Home Affairs to examine the episodes of a TV show and take steps to ensure that the identity of paramilitary personnel and their family members are not revealed, as it could jeopardise their lives. The court said if the government felt that the identity of personnel could be compromised by the episodes of the show, then it has “to ensure that sufficient safeguards are taken before telecast”.
It also issued notices to the two ministries, the media house and paramilitary forces like BSF, CRPF and ITBP, and sought their replies to a plea by an ex-serviceman who has alleged that the TV channel had disclosed the identity of several paramilitary personnel and their family members.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on September 19.
The observations came during the hearing of an ex- serviceman’s plea seeking Rs one lakh compensation for the personnel whose identities were allegedly disclosed and steps to protect them as well as their family members.
The petitioner, Puran Chand Arya, has sought damages of Rs 10 crore from the media house for breach of contract between his association, Ardh Sainik Welfare Trust, and the TV channel for producing episodes on the heroic achievements of the security forces.
Arya, in his plea filed through advocate Abhishek Chaudhary, had claimed that the media house produced and aired the episodes without giving credit to the association and also changed the name of the programme.
However, the court said the plea for damages over breach of contract and credit for the shows have to be raised in a separate civil suit and not in a writ petition. Subsequently, the two reliefs were withdrawn by the petitioner’s lawyer who said he will file an appropriate plea on those issues.