Updated: February 10, 2022 12:57:25 pm
Malayalam news channel Media One TV has approached a division bench of Kerala High Court, challenging a single-bench verdict that upheld the transmission ban slapped on it by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).
The appeal will come before the division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly on Thursday for admission.
The I&B ministry did not renew the transmission licence of the channel after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had not given security clearance citing security reasons. After perusing through the files submitted by the MHA, the single bench of Justice N Nagaresh on February 8 (Tuesday) observed that there are materials and intelligence reports supporting the ban and upheld it.
In its appeal, Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which owns Media One, said that threat to national security is raised as a ruse to cancel the license of the channel and it does not have any basis at all. “The channel has been in the public domain for more than a decade and so far, no proceedings were initiated against it for any contravention of law and the deplorable fact is that the showcause notice (as to why the licence should not be revoked) was issued only when the appellant sought renewal of its licence. It is without any genuine cause (that) the license is revoked, putting the lives of 350 staff of the channel in turmoil,” the appeal said.
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The appeal said that the I&B ministry order revoking the transmission licence is violative of Article 19(1) and 14 of the Constitution of India and “unless there are adequate warranting circumstances viz. threat to the national security, the license ought not to have been cancelled”.
Media One submitted that the judicial approval of the “illegal act” of the government would injure the Constitution and also “stifle the dogma of fundamental rights”, which will hereinafter be a qualified right that could be curtailed at the whims of the government easily.
“Yesteryears the government was tolerant to fair criticism but the recent trend is alarming as it chokes the freedom of press and right to speech. Hereinafter no news channel will dare to broadcast any programme against the sweet will of the government as it may not be inconvenient for the government to forbid the channel by managing Intelligence reports and other materials. It is in this context relevant to note that the reliability of the referred to intelligence report is also suspected and the so-called consideration by the committee, without even affording any opportunity of hearing to the appellant is unconstitutional,’’ the appeal said further.
Referring to a Supreme Court court judgement in Manoharlal Sharma Vs. Union of India that the scope of judicial review in matters pertaining to national security is limited, the appeal said, “it does not mean that the State gets a free pass every time the spectre of national security is raised. The Hon’ble Apex Court further held that the national security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning.”
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