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Supreme Court To Hear MediaOne Channel's Plea Challenging Centre's Telecast Ban On March 10

Srishti Ojha
7 March 2022 5:18 AM GMT
Supreme Court To Hear MediaOne Channels Plea Challenging Centres Telecast Ban On March 10
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Update : The hearing date was subsequently advanced to March 10 after a second mention by Senior Adv Dushyant Dave (The first report mentioned the hearing date as March 11)The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on Thursday (March 10) the special leave petition filed by Malayalam news channel MediaOne against the judgment of the Kerala High Court which upheld the Centre's decision...

Update : The hearing date was subsequently advanced to March 10 after a second mention by Senior Adv Dushyant Dave (The first report mentioned the hearing date as March 11)

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on Thursday (March 10) the special leave petition filed by Malayalam news channel MediaOne against the judgment of the Kerala High Court which upheld the Centre's decision to not renew its telecast license citing national security grounds.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave mentioned the petition before the Chief Justice of India for urgent listing.

"For 11 years we have functioned. We have 350 employees & millions of viewers. We've been shut down due to some secret files from Home Ministry and the court has justified it behind our back. It's too serious a matter relating to right to information & freedom of press", Dave submitted.

The CJI agreed to list it on Friday. The hearing date was later advanced to March 10 after a second mentioning by the Dave.

MediaOne approached the Supreme Court on March 2 hours after a division bench of the Kerala High Court upheld the recent ban imposed on it by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The channel contended that the exact reasons for the Centre's non-renewal of the license have not been revealed to them and the Court approved the decision on the basis of certain sealed cover files produced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, purportedly raising some national security concerns.

The petitioner further contended that the impugned judgment was patently illegal since Clauses 9 and 10 of the uplinking and downlinking guidelines make it abundantly clear that for the purpose of renewal of license, security clearance is not a factor to be considered.

Moreover, since there was not a single complaint or any action against the petitioner in the last 10 years, it was aserted that renewal was a matter of right for the petitioner on a plain reading of Clauses 9 and 10.

Reliance was also placed on the Supreme Court judgment in Manoharlal Sharma Vs. Union of India(Pegasus case)where it was held that the scope of judicial review in matters pertaining to national security is limited, however, it does not mean that the State gets a free pass every time the spectre of national security is raised.

Background:

On January 31, a few hours after the Ministry suspended the channel's telecast citing security concerns, MediaOne had approached the Single Judge with a plea. The channel owned by Jamaat-e-Islami went off the air on the very same day.

Although the Single Judge granted the channel an interim relief allowing it to telecast till the case was decided, Justice N. Nagaresh held that after perusing the files from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, it has found intelligence inputs that justify the denial of security clearance to the channel. The Ministry had produced the files before the Court in a sealed cover.

Aggrieved by this, MediaOne had approached a Division Bench with an appeal. However, the division bench agreed with the single Judge and upheld the recent ban imposed on it by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting citing that national security was of utmost importance for the smooth functioning of a country.

Case Title: Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited v. Union of India

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