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Kerala: MediaOne channel goes off air, high court upholds Centre’s decision to revoke licence, had backed Islamist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami

While dismissing a writ petition challenging Centre's ban on MediaOne, Kerala HC said that the court intervention in circumstances of national security have a very limited role.

The Kerala high court has upheld the Centre’s ban on Malayalam news channel MediaOne on Tuesday, dismissing petitions filed by the channel against the government order. The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) had shut down the channel on Monday due to security concerns after the regional television channel was found to be supporting the radical Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami. The injunction was sent to MediaOne’s parent corporation, Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, a group owned by the radical Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami.

The Kerala High Court, while dismissing the writ petition challenging the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s ruling, made it clear that natural justice principles and court intervention in circumstances of national security have a very limited role. The court further said that from the evidence produced before it, the adverse inputs given by the intelligence agencies were of serious nature.

Passing the orders Justice AN Nagaresh said he has gone through the files. “I find that the ministry has called for reports from various intelligence agencies. Based on those inputs, it was found that security clearance should not be renewed. There are inputs that justify the decision. Therefore, I am dismissing the petition,” said the judge.

Following the single-judge decision, the channel authorities requested two days to submit a review petition with the Division bench, which they were denied.

“I cannot extend it even for an hour,” the Court said, dismissing the petitioner’s request to put the judgement in abeyance for two days.

The TV channel, on the other hand, has decided to pursue the appeal. It has been contended that MHA clearance was only required at the time for fresh permission/license and not at the time of renewal.

Countering the assertion made by MediaOne, the court ruled: “Broadcasting in India is considered an integral part of the freedom of speech and expression. Uplinking and downlinking of channels in India are governed by the policy guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting ministry. It is clear from the policy guidelines that at the time of considering the renewal of application of the existing holder’s certain terms and conditions are applicable. In the case of renewal applications for downlinking also, security clearance is mandatory. The contention of the petitioners that security clearance is a one-time affair cannot be accepted.”

The Central Government on Wednesday, February 2 had informed the Kerala High Court that its decision to revoke the licence of the Malayalam news channel MediaOne was based on credible national security concerns flagged by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). 

Earlier On January 31, after the channel MediaOne went off the air, the Kerala High Court had deferred the Central Government’s order for two days until the hearing. This morning, however, it dismissed the channel’s arguments.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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