SC to hear Media One channel’s plea challenging Centre’s decision not to renew licence on March 10

The Supreme Court will hear on March 10 a plea challenging the Centre’s decision not to renew the broadcasting licence of Malayalam television channel Media One citing “security reasons”.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave mentioned the appeal filed by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which runs the channel, against the Kerala High Court order that upheld the Centre’s decision, before Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

Dave contended that it was “too serious” a matter and said ‘for 11 years, we have functioned. We have 350 employees and millions of viewers. We have been shut down due to some secret files from the Home Ministry and court has justified it behind our back’ and added that it raises questions of right to information and press.

The CJI initially agreed to list it on March 11 but Dave said he had some personal difficulties that day and requested the court to hear it on March 10. The CJI agreed and said he will list it before the appropriate bench.

A division bench of the high court had on March 2 upheld the ban on the channel dismissing appeals filed by the management and journalists who had challenged a February 9 order of a single-judge bench of the high court refusing to lift it.

MediaOne TV went off air on January 31.

The division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chali observed that when certain issues with respect to the security of the State are concerned, the government is at liberty to decline to renew the permission granted, without disclosing the complete reasons for the non-renewal.

The division bench observed that in the files produced before it, there are certain aspects affecting the public order or the security of the State on the basis of the report of the Intelligence Bureau and other investigating agencies.

It said that “certain aspects relating to the security of the State are mentioned to the effect that Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited has some linkages with certain undesirable forces, which is stated to be a security threat.’’

Media One TV was banned by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) refused to give clearance to the channel, citing “security reasons”.

The channel is said to have the backing of the Kerala chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

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