Kerala's ruling, opposition leaders welcome SC order quashing Centre's ban on MediaOne news channel

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VD Satheesan, PA Mohamed Riyas

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's ruling CPI(M)-led LDF as well as opposition Congress-led UDF on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court order quashing the Centre's telecast ban on Malayalam news channel MediaOne, saying it gives hope to people fighting to protect democratic principles and the Constitution.

Reacting to the verdict, Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan said the apex court's decision had underlined the stand taken by him earlier that the Centre's decision to ban the channel was an anti-democratic and anti-constitutional act.

"I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court order," the Congress leader told reporters.

Referring to the order, which said critical views of the channel against government policies could not be termed as anti-establishment, he said that criticising the ruling dispensation was not an anti-national act.

"This verdict gives hope to the people who believe in democratic principles," Satheesan said.

Kerala PWD Minister Mohammed Riyas said the media played a crucial role in protecting democracy and secularism, and the verdict was important in the context of the ongoing fight to preserve the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

In a tweet, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the judgment robustly affirms freedom of the press in the country.

"I welcome the SupremeCourt decision revoking the ban on Malayalam TV channel @MediaOne", Tharoor said, quoting an excerpt from the court order. "The judgement robustly affirms press freedom. Shabash!", the Thiruvananthapuram MP added.

MediaOne editor Pramod Raman also posted a tweet saying, "Thanks to all".

In its order, the Supreme Court pulled up the Ministry of Home Affairs for raising national security claims from "thin air" without facts.

Observing that the state can't impose unreasonable restrictions on the press, as it would have a "chilling effect on press freedom", a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud set aside the Kerala High Court order, which had upheld the Centre's decision to ban the channel's telecast on grounds of national security.

On March 15, the top court, in an interim order, stayed until further direction the January 31 directive of the Centre revoking the licence of the news channel and banning its telecast.


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