Union Home Ministry is examining a proposal from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking fresh security clearance for DMK backed Kalaignar TV. Set up in 2007, the TV channel was to counter Sun TV of the Marans but later got mired into the 2G scam investigations in which all the 18 accused including Kalaignar TV CEO Sharad Kumar were acquitted.
According to officials, the fresh security clearance is for 10 years that will be vetted on the revised 2015 National Security policy of MHA. Intelligence agencies, however, have flagged the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the acquittals of A Raja and others into the 2G scam investigations. It was alleged by CBI-ED that a bribe money of Rs 200 crores in the 2G scam was facilitated through Kalaignar TV.
“This is for the first time that Kalaignar TV will be evaluated under the revised policy. Based on the inputs received from the agencies, MHA takes a decision to grant or deny security clearance,” a top home ministry official told The Indian Express. Speaking to the Indian Express, former CEO and director Kumar said, “I have resigned as the director and now only a shareholder. The clearance (security) could be the requirement for new directors.”
DMK MP and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi was also among one of the shareholders at the Kalaignar TV and was charged by CBI-ED in the 2G investigations. Sources also confirmed that the TV channel is undergoing changes after M K Stalin took over as the president following Karunanidhi’s death. The group also plans to revamp the channel including changes in operations and shareholding pattern, before the 2019 elections.
Kumar also said the TV channel still has two directors on its board. In 2014, the DMK appointed its organizing secretary and former MP T K S Elangovan as one of the directors of Kalaignar TV. Elangovan was considered close to DMK patriarch Karunanidhi and also shares a good rapport with Stalin. Officials familiar with the development said the group is also trying to get a retired bureaucrat on the board of the Kalaignar TV after the exit of Kumar. As per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the second director at the Kalaignar TV is Amirtham, nephew of Karunanidhi.
A senior home ministry official explained, “the permission for uplinking or downlinking of TV channels are granted by the government after security clearance to the company, its promoters, directors and key executives. The security clearance procedure will take into account their involvement, if any, in any case that might have adverse implications on national security.” While the decision of granting or denying the security clearance remains with the MHA, inputs are shared with the concerned administrative ministries to enable them to take appropriate decision, as deemed fit, in accordance with their rules, policy, procedure, guidelines, the official added.