MediaOne moves SC against HC verdict upholding centre’s telecast ban

Supreme Court of India I Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited has moved an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Kerala High Court’s decision upholding the central government’s ban on the MediaOne channel. According to reports, the media house will request the apex court to immediately hear their petition on Thursday. The request will be made before the bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana.

MediaOne’s advocates Harris Beeran and Pallavi Prathap filed an appeal before the SC within hours after the HC upheld the centre’s ban on the channel.
It is reported that the High Court had examined the files of the ministry of home affairs related to the ban before pronouncing the judgement. In the appeal before the SC,

MediaOne criticised the HC for checking the files without informing them.

On Wednesday, Kerala High Court upheld the Centre's ban on Media One by denying its security clearance, saying certain aspects mentioned in the intelligence reports about the channel had a bearing on public order on national security. A bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said the single judge was earlier "right" in declining to interfere with the Centre's January 31 decision to ban telecast of Media One.

In the Special Leave Petition preferred by Media one, the channel said that it has filed the petition under dire and compelling circumstances. The petition also said that it raises seminal questions of law impinging upon the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the importance of an independent, free and unbiased press guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Kerala High Court on February 8, 2022, upheld the order of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to revoke the license of a Malayalam news channel named 'Media One' from the list of permitted news channels citing security reasons. The Court dismissed petitions filed by the 'Media One' channel against the government order.

While dismissing the writ petition challenging the order of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Kerala High Court made it clear that principles of natural justice and interference by court in cases of national security have a very limited role.

While rejecting the pleas of the petitioner to keep the judgement in abeyance for two days, the Court replied, "I cannot extend it even for an hour."

Single Bench of Justice N Nagaresh further observed in the order that "national security is considered as one of the most important sovereign functions for long. It is clear that principles of natural justice and interference by courts in cases of national security have a very limited role. The need for citizens to live in a secured nation has made national security the most significant function of any state.

The committee of officers noted that the adverse inputs given by the intelligence wing against the company are serious in nature. This court finds that the recommendation of the council is justified by supporting materials. This court is not inclined to interfere with the denial of renewal of the petitioner's license. They fail and are accordingly dismissed.

The contention of the petitioner cannot be accepted. The right under Article 19 (1) has certain exceptions which empower the state to impose reasonable restrictions.

The action of the State must be a reasonable restriction, must be in furtherance of sovereignty and integrity, security, friendly relations with foreign nations, public order, decency, contempt, defamation. The imposition of restrictions is reasonable.

The concept of good governance takes within its ambit a secured state. Ensuring national security involves preempting possibilities that could cause insecurity.

"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 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," ruled the Court in its order.

(With inputs from ANI)

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