The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition of Malayalam channel Media One TV challenging the Union Government’s order barring its transmission. Earlier, on January 31, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had barred the transmission of Malayalam news channel Media One citing ‘security reasons’, after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) refused security clearance for renewal of the channel’s licence.
Notably, as per an order by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B), through which it had informed Media One, a Malayalam-language news channel that its broadcast licence had been cancelled, citing a Home Ministry order that had denied security clearance to the channel. Post this order, the channel owner Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami, then had filed a writ petition before the high court, seeking that the ministry’s order be set aside. Initially, the Kerala High Court had granted a stay, allowing the channel to continue functioning. The High Court, had reserved its order on Monday, and was intended to be pronounced on Tuesday.
The high court then temporarily deferred the ministry’s order until the hearing concluded. Last week, the court called for files from the home ministry on the “security reasons”, Bar and Bench reported. According to LiveLaw, “two intervening petitions” had also been filed in the matter by some of the channel’s employees and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists.
The bench of Justice N Nagaresh on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of the channel after going through the files submitted by the MHA as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued the ban order following the MHA’s recommendation. The court observed that there are sufficient grounds for denying permission for renewal of the channel’s licence.
It must be noted that earlier too, the channel had faced a 48-hour ban along with AsiaNet, in connection with its unethical reporting of the Delhi riots that had rocked the capital in 2020.
“Based on the inputs from various intelligence agencies, the MHA had formed a committee of officers, which found that the security clearance for the channel should not be renewed. The MHA also considered the entire facts and decided to accept the recommendations of the committee of officers. I find that there are inputs which justify the decision of the MHA. Therefore, I propose to dismiss the petition,”
the judge made remarks while dismissing the petition of Malayalam channel Media One TV.
He further added –
“As far as the Pegasus judgment is concerned, it has been passed in the view of the right to privacy. Whereas the other judgement in Digi Cable Network would sparsely apply to the facts of this case. Therefore, I am dismissing this writ petition (challenging the ban on transmission of Media One TV),”
S. Manu, the Assistant Solicitor General, submitted in the court that MHA had denied the security clearance based on various intelligence inputs, which were sensitive and secret. Therefore, as a matter of policy and in the interest of national security, MHA could not disclose reasons for the denial of security clearance.
The channel’s license had been rescinded after due diligence and application of the relevant aspects of the breach of security clearance. He also pointed out that even for the renewal of the licenses, security clearance from the MHA was mandatory. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had followed scrupulously all the procedures before taking a final call on the issue. Moreover, the period of the license of the channel had also expired.
This channel was launched by the then defence minister A K Anthony as ‘channel of Credibility and High Values’. The channel had been granted permission in 2011 for uplinking and delinking programs after giving security clearance by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA). The company had applied for renewal of the license after the expiry of the 10 year license period.
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