Delhi High Court Says It Expects Government To Start 24-Hour Doordarshan Channel In Sindhi Language

Delhi High Court Says It Expects Government To Start 24-Hour Doordarshan Channel In Sindhi Language

Sindhi language speakers, being a linguistic minority, have a right for the preservation of their heritage and culture, the Delhi High Court said last week while disposing of a nine-year-old petition by a Mumbai resident who asked for a 24-hour Sindhi language channel from Doordarshan.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Friday, February 16, 2024, 11:00 PM IST
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FPJ

Sindhi language speakers, being a linguistic minority, have a right for the preservation of their heritage and culture, the Delhi High Court said last week while disposing of a nine-year-old petition by a Mumbai resident who asked for a 24-hour Sindhi language channel from Doordarshan, the government-run television broadcaster.

Saying that the court expected the government to "make every possible effort and endeavor" to open a new Doordarshan channel for the Sindhi community, Justice Dr Sudhir Kumar Jain, said that the court couldn't give directions to the government for opening of a new Doordarshan channel in Sindhi as the decision is a government function.

The petitioner, Asha Chand of the cultural group Sindhi Sangat, said they will approach the courts again with an appeal. "We are upset with the court's order. We get this decision after waiting for nine years. The petition has been disposed of without any recommendations to the government. The government cannot say that it does not have the resources to start the channel. The government should not look at profits while fulfilling a Constitutional obligation," said Chand who had filed the petition in 2015, saying that the public broadcaster was obliged under article 14 of the Constitution to run a television channel for a linguistic minority.

The petition had been argued by the late jurist Ram Jethmalani when it was first filed. In its reply to the petition, the union government, which was one of the respondents in the case, said that Doordarshan Kendra, Ahmedabad, had explored the possibility of a Sindhi-language channel in 2009. In 2011, Prasar Bharati, the government broadcaster, had discussed the proposal but had concluded that it was not feasible to set up a television channel for a linguistic group that had only 2.6 million speakers (according to the 2011 census).

The government said that Doordarshan followed the principle of All India Radio, which broadcasts programmes in the principal language of the state or region where the radio station is located. It was argued that Sindhi was not the primary language of any Indian state or territory.

Doordarshan currently runs services in 17 languages and added channels in Urdu and a regional station for Arunachal Pradesh in the period when the Sindhi language petition was being heard.

Doordarshan Girnar, the Gujarati-language channel, has half-hour slots for Sindhi programmes, thrice a week. Sahyadri, the Marathi channel, offers a 30-minute programme once a week. Sindhi speakers, who migrated from Sindh during the partition, live mostly in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra.

"This is inadequate and the programmes are not of good quality," said Chand about the current television programmes. After a bilingual television channel in Kutchi and Sindhi, run by a private operator in Gujarat's Kutch district shut down, Sindhis have no television channels in their language, said Chand.

Other Sindhi speakers said that the court's decision gave them hope that a television channel in their language was a possibility in the future  Academician Kishore Peshori said, "It is a positive judgment because the government has been directed to explore the possibility of a Sindhi-language channel. "It has to be done. The petition has been disposed of and there is a direction to the government," said Peshori. "We suffered the most during partition. There is hope to get at least a channel in our language. The Ahmedabad Doordarshan station had a proposal."

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