The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on March 11 a plea of Malayalam news channel ‘MediaOne’ against the Kerala High Court order upholding the Centre’s decision to ban its telecast on security grounds.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna took note of the submissions of senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the news channel, that the plea needed an urgent hearing.
“This is too serious. For 11 years, we have been functioning and we have 350 employees and millions of viewers. We have been shut down because of some secret files from the Home Ministry. Both the single judge and the division bench of the high court have justified this (action of the government) behind my back,” the senior lawyer said.
This is too serious and the issue involved is right to information and freedom of press, he said.
“List on Friday before an appropriate bench,” the CJI said.
Earlier, the Kerala High Court upheld the Centre’s decision to bar telecast of the Malayalam news channel and had dismissed the plea of Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd — which operates MediaOne — challenging the central government’s January 31 decision.
The high court had said that the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to deny security clearance was based on intelligence inputs received from various agencies.
The central government had also said that the MHA denied security clearance over national security concerns based on intelligence inputs.
The channel had contended that MHA clearance was only required at the time for fresh permission/license and not at the time of renewal.
It had also contended that, according to the uplinking and downlinking guidelines, security clearance was only required at the time of application for fresh permission and not at the time of renewal of licence.