The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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To show or not to show Dec. 13
- Parliament attack accused move court against telecast

Mumbai, Dec. 12: When the first anniversary of India’s 12/13 falls tomorrow, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a television channel can re-enact the attack on Parliament or whether it would impair the interests of the accused three days before the verdict.

Four of the accused in the case, who include suspended lecturer of Delhi University S.A.R. Geelani, have moved Delhi High Court against the planned telecast by Zee TV, saying it would prejudice their case on which the judgment was likely to be pronounced on December 16. The other petitioners are alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad militants Shaukat Hussain and Mohammad Afzal and Hussain’s wife Navjot Sandhu.

The high court ruled that the telefilm — originally scheduled to be aired on Zee News at 8 pm on Friday — could be shown if the special court trying the Parliament attack case granted permission to do so.

But Zee — which has labelled the programme as the “first-ever telefilm made by a news channel” — will move the Supreme Court tomorrow. The channel is hoping to get a favourable verdict before evening, so that it can go ahead with the telecast, said Alka Saxena, deputy editor, Zee News.

Titled December 13 and made by Zee News, the film “is based on the chargesheet filed by the special police cell which investigates the case”, Saxena said.

The case has an unusual dimension as, normally, governments are accused of blocking broadcast of programmes on controversial subjects. The fact that December 13 is partly based on material collected by a government agency has led to the reversal of roles.

The case also adds an element of suspense to a day the government wanted to spend without much fanfare. The government had scaled down its initial grand plan for December 13, fearing that a high-profile programme might be construed as a celebration of the escape of politicians.

Zee News’ Saxena said the film puts together the sequence of the original events, but makes no comment. It incorporates real footage as well as sequences reenacted by students from the National School of Drama.

December 13 is produced by Naveen Kumar, Anurag Tomer and Sanjay Pandey.

The channel said the aim of the proposed telecast is to present a “true story about a terrorist attack that shook the nation. An attack which tried to upset the throne of the world’s largest democracy.”

December 13 “is an attempt to go back in time and get to the truth. When did the terrorists come to Delhi' How come they went unnoticed in Chandni Chowk, Palika Bazaar and Mukherjee Nagar. All this in 40 minutes of plain-speaking,” the channel added.

The high court bench that heard the petition today has issued notices to the police cell and Zee Telefilms Ltd. The court has directed them to submit their replies by January 14.

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