“Channel’s only crime is that minority community owns it,” Media One’s lawyer tells Supreme Court

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Dushyant Dave

By Muslim Mirror

The Malayalam news channel MediaOne, whose broadcast license was not renewed by the Centre in January of this year due to security concerns, has never broken the Programmed Code, senior lawyer Dushyant Dave testified before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

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Dave, who represents Media One, stated that the Ministry’s submission of sealed files to the Court is highly unacceptable as it causes the opposing party to feel prejudiced while purportedly acting in the interest of national security.

“There is no allegation that the channel has violated the Program Code. The only crime is that the channel is owned by people of the minority community,” Dave said before a bench including Justices Hima Kohli and DY Chandrachud. The channel is “widely respected among Malayalees,” he continued, and prominent people take part in the debates it hosts.

Dave said that no security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs is required for the renewal of a broadcast license under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. According to him, the law itself stipulates specific requirements that must be met, including respect for the nation’s sovereignty, national security, good ties with other countries, public order, instigation of crime, morality, decency, and court contempt.

“There is not a single instance when we violated the programme code,” he said.

He fiercely contended that the government cannot impose any new restrictions and that the channel is not eligible for registration or license renewal if the Act’s requirements are not met. The highest court was informed that the Act stipulates that renewal would be taken into account after a period of ten years, with the proviso that the channel should not have been deemed to have violated the programme code five times.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s order, which forbade extending the channel’s license under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, was placed on hold by the court in March. In an SLP filed by the firm seeking a review of the Kerala High Court ruling upholding the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s decision not to renew the channel’s license, the court issued the interim order.

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