In a massive embarrassment to Shiv Sena, the Bombay High Court on Friday observed that party’s affiliate Shiv Cable Sena was not a ‘statutory body’ to interfere or supersede Republic TV contract with its cable network operators.
According to the reports, the Bombay Court coming to the rescue of Republic Media Network said that if the cable network operators violate their contractual relationship with the network, then the channel can approach appropriate authority for relief.
The Bombay High Court, however, declined to entertain a writ petition filed by Republic TV against Shiv Cable Sena saying that the organisation has no right to block the channels. The Republic TV had sought the court’s intervention in restraining Cable TV Operators from taking the channels off the air after Shiv Cable Sena had threatened and asked operators to not to air two channels. The media network had alleged that the Sena-affiliate had threatened cable TV Operators with public agitations if its channels were not taken off the air.
However, the Government’s Counsel Jyoti Chavan contended that a writ against the Shiv Sena was improper as Sena was a private entity. Observing the fact that Shiv Cable Sena was not a statutory authority, the Bombay HC asked the Republic Media Network to approach the appropriate law enforcement authority against Sena’s intimidation.
The court also observed that the communication issued by the Shiv Cable Sena had “no effect in law”. The court in its order said that “Shiv Cable Sena is not a statutory authority to either supersede the license granted to the Petitioners or to interfere in the contractual/statutory relationship between the Petitioners and the Cable Network Operators. The communication issued by it has, therefore, no effect in law”.
Regarding the intimidation from the state govt, the court said that the network could approach the appropriate law enforcement authority against the same. The bench also observed that Cable TV Operators have not taken down the channels yet, and if some of them have done so, that has not been informed to the court. The order also added that even if some operators remove the channels, that can’t be directly linked to the Sena’s letter.
“The Bombay HC has clarified that Shiv Cable Sena’s communication has no effect in law. The court also maintained that it has not been notified that any cable operator has stopped airing the two channels after Shiv Cable Sena’s communique, as Republic sought a restraint on the Sena-linked body’s order,” the Republic TV said in a statement.
The media network also added that the Bombay High Court had also advised the recipients of Shiv Cable Sena’s ‘intimidating communications’ to approach concerned law enforcement authorities seeking action against the Sena affiliate.
Following the Bombay High Court order, the Republic TV network said, “We’re most grateful to the Hon’ble Bombay High Court in recognising the urgency of the matter and hearing Republic TV on such short notice…The court also observed that the communication issued by the Shiv Cable Sena had “no effect in law”. It is therefore only muscle power that can illegally threaten or coerce the cable operators in blocking the Republic TV channel but not the law.”
Shiv Sena asks cable operators to ban Republic TV network
The Shiv Sena-affiliate ‘Shiv Cable Sena’ had issued a communication ordering cable network operators to ban Republic TV and Republic Bharat on Thursday following its extensive coverage into lapses of Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government in the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case and Palghar Hindu sadhus lynching case.
In a letter issued on Thursday, the Shiv Cable Sena, an affiliate to Shiv Sena, has asked the cable TV operators to ban Republic Media network in the state. The Shiv Sena has also issued veiled threats to the cable operators to ban the Arnab Goswami-led media network or face consequences.
The letter by Shiv Sena to the main cable operators Hathaway, Den, In Cable, GTPL, Seven Star, City cables any many others stated that Republic has violated journalistic ethics and guidelines by repeatedly using non-respectful language for CM Uddhav Thackeray, home minister and holding a ‘parallel court’ in Arnab Goswami’s newsroom.
Maharashtra government arrests two Republic journalists
The threats and intimidation by Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena against Republic TV come after the Maharashtra government had arrested two Republic TV journalists, who were picked from Raigad for carrying out an investigative assignment.
Republic Media Network’s reporter Anuj Kumar, video journalist Yashpaljit Singh were detained by the Maharashtra police a few days ago. The journalists were held by Maharashtra Police under the charges of ‘trespassing’ after they made some inquiry with a security guard at a certain residential building in Karjat, reportedly owned by Uddhav Thackeray.
Arnab Goswami, the chief of the Republic TV network, on Friday had demanded the immediate release of the reporters and had challenged the Maharashtra Chief Minister saying he did not write the country’s constitution.
“Uddhav Thackeray, release my journalists. You have broken the law and we will not allow this illegality. You did not write the constitution and you have no right to turn it upside down,” said Arnab Goswami in a blistering attacking against Maharashtra Chief Minister.
The Republic TV Editor-in-Chief said that if Uddhav Thackeray fails to release the journalists, he will be fighting him in both the courts of public opinion and our country’s highest courts.
Later in the day, the Republic TV had moved to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking the immediate release of two journalists associated with the channel.