SC has reserved its order on the broadcast ban imposed on the channel.
In an appeal filed by Malayalam news channel 'MediaOne' in the Supreme Court, senior advocate Dushyant Dave argued before the apex court's division bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli on November 2. Dave fervently assailed the ban imposed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) on the said channel. Earlier on February 8 this year, the Kerala High Court upheld the ban imposed to annul the channel's license and deny operating permission. The material handed over to it in a sealed cover indicated that the Ministry of Home Affairs had sufficient cause (credible ‘national security and ‘public order’ concerns) to revoke security clearance to the channel's license, justifying the ban.
During the hearing, Dave highlighted the right of the press granted by the Indian Constitution under freedom and expression of speech in Article 19(1)(a). He termed the central government's action unconstitutional and arbitrary since it mocked the Constitutional principles. In the heat of the moment, Dave remarked in the SC, "Court of law has relied on this without showing us the file (resorting to sealed cover jurisprudence)! With the greatest respect to the judge, but what bulls**t may have been stated in the file, we do not know." However, later he apologized for his choice of words. The learned counsel for the appellant argued that the Programme Code (which governs the operation of news channels in India) necessitates that channels must be compulsorily issued 45 days prior notice of removal, which was not the case here.
Furthermore, MHA failed to provide any reason for the ban on a channel owned by minority community members. Most importantly, Dave disagreed with the approach undertaken by the lower court, i.e., sealed cover jurisprudence. He shed light on its adverse effects and the dangers it poses to the Indian judicial system, wherein the other party does not get a chance to come up with better defences due to a lack of disclosure of information. He also argued that Media One should have been, at least, provided with a gist of the grounds for denying renewal. However, on behalf of the government, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Natraj stated that there were extraneous circumstances for not showing the files. Currently, SC has reserved its order on the broadcast ban imposed on the channel.
Tags : #Supremecourt #MediaOne #sealedcover #dushyantdave #MHA #I&B #DYChandrachud