Supreme Court of India
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice on a plea by Malayalam news channel 'Media One', challenging the Kerala High Court order which upheld the Central government's decision to not renew its broadcasting licence.
The Centre had cited national security grounds to justify the ban.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said, "Issue notice returnable on March 15. The Respondents shall produce relevant files on which reliance was placed by the high court in the impugned judgment."
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Dushyant Dave, representing Media One, contended before the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, that the channel has been completely closed down and it has close to 2.5 crore viewers every day.
Rohatgi said there is nothing against the TV channel and pointed out several hundred people have been unemployed, after the channel was closed down. "How will we feed these employees," said Rohatgi. The counsel urged the top court to direct the Centre to bring on record those files which it submitted in the high court.
The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on March 15. The top court will also consider the application by the TV channel seeking interim relief on the next hearing.
On Monday, Dave mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana. He submitted that for 11 years, the organisation has functioned and the channel has 350 employees and millions of viewers. Dave said, "We have been shut down due to some secret files from the home ministry and the court has justified it behind our back. It's too serious a matter relating to the right to information and freedom of press".
Media One had moved the top court after the Kerala High Court upheld the ban imposed on it by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice S.Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chali noted when certain issues with respect to the security of the state are concerned, the government is at liberty to decline to renew the permission granted, without disclosing the complete reasons for the non-renewal.
The high court on March 2 dismissed the appeals filed by the channel's management and journalists challenging a February 9 single-bench order, which refused to lift the ban. IANS