Supreme Court seeks files on Malayalam TV channel MediaOne
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to furnish the “secret files” on the basis of which it had imposed a broadcast ban on Malayalam TV channel MediaOne on the ground of acting prejudicially to national interests.
While issuing notices to the Union ministries of information and broadcasting (I&B) and home, the court said it would consider at the next hearing on March 15 the channel’s plea to vacate the ban as interim relief.
“On the next date of listing, the respondents shall produce all the relevant files which were produced before the high court (which upheld the ban),” the apex court said in an order.
The bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath passed the order after hearing senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Dushyant Dave, who represented the media house.
Justice Chandrachud agreed that the principles of natural justice were violated because the media house was not shown the secret files, furnished by the Union home ministry, on the basis of which the high court upheld the ban.
“We saw the order in paragraph 32 (of the Kerala High Court judgment). They (judgment) say too many details are not available,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Rohatgi pleaded that hundreds of MediaOne employees would lose their jobs if the broadcasting rights were not restored. Dave said the channel had over 2.5 crore viewers.
Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which owns the channel, and its managing director Pramod Raman have challenged the ban on MediaOne as a violation of the “right to information and freedom of press”.
They have contested the concurrent orders by a single-judge bench and a division bench of Kerala High Court that upheld the cancellation of the broadcasting licence.
Through an order dated January 31 this year, the I&B ministry had revoked the permission granted to the channel on September 30, 2011, to uplink and downlink news and current affairs.
The ministry had justified the move citing a home ministry report that referred to Intelligence Bureau inputs to deny clearance for broadcast by MediaOne on national security grounds.
On February 8, a single-judge high court bench dismissed the media house's petition challenging the government's refusal to renew its broadcasting licence. On March 2, a division bench upheld the ruling.
MediaOne has pleaded that only once before had it received an order to suspend its broadcast — on March 6, 2020 - which the government revoked the following day.