Critical Views Against Government Policies cannot be termed as Anti-establishment: SC

"National security claims cannot be made out of thin air, there must be material facts backing it," the bench said while ruling against telecast ban on Malayalam Channel MediaOne.


In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against the telecast ban imposed by the Union Government on Malayalam news channel MediaOne.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the Centre’s denial of security clearance to Malayalam news channel MediaOne, and pulled up the Ministry of Home Affairs for raising national security claims in “thin air” without facts.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud set aside the Kerala High Court order which had upheld the Centre’s decision to ban the channel’s telecast on security grounds.

The top court said critical views of the channel against government policies cannot be termed as anti-establishment as an independent press is necessary for robust democracy.

“National security claims cannot be made out of thin air, there must be material facts backing it,” the bench said.

The Court passed the judgment in a special leave petition filed by Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd (MBL) – the company running the channel- assailing the Kerala High Court’s judgment of upholding the decision of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to not renew the broadcast license of the channel for want of security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The channel’s editor Pramod Raman and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists had also filed separate petitions challenging the High Court’s judgment.

The top court was hearing the plea of the news channel against the Kerala High Court’s order which had upheld the Centre’s decision to ban its telecast on security grounds.

On January 31, 2022, the Centre barred the telecast of the Malayalam channel and revoked its licence on grounds of national security. The government’s directive was challenged by the channel in the Kerala High Court which upheld the telecast ban order.

Last year in June, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the denial of security clearance to MediaOne is based on intelligence inputs, which are “sensitive” and “secret in nature”. It said that as a matter of policy and in the interest of security of the State and its establishments, the MHA does not disclose the reasons for denial.

The Supreme Court heavily criticised the High Court’s approaching in upholding the Centre’s decision solely on the basis of the sealed cover documents submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.


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April 2024


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