The Central government on Monday banned the transmission of Malayalam news channel MediaOne over “security reasons”. The ban was later stayed by a single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court for two days.
Today, the Central government has told the Kerala High Court that the recent decision of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to revoke the licence of Malayalam news channel MediaOne was based on credible national security concerns flagged by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
“The MHA has informed that denial of security clearance was based on intelligence inputs which are sensitive in nature and in the interest of national security, MHA does not disclose reasons for denial,” the Centre said.
The Centre, however, refused to state what the concerns raised by MHA were, and also contended that a party cannot insist on observing natural justice principles in a situation involving national security.
The Central government cited the Supreme Court in Ex-Armymen’s Protection Services P. Ltd Vs. Union of lndia and others, in a situation of national security, a party cannot insist for the strict observance of the principles of natural justice.
On January 31, the channel was taken off air following which they approached the High Court, which decided to defer the operation of the Ministry’s order for two days, (ending today) and stated that there must be no interruption to the broadcasting of the channel.
The Central government in its response opposed the grant of any interim reliefs to the petitioner channel, would defeat the purpose of the guidelines that are set in place for granting security clearance.
“The MHA has informed that denial of security clearance in the case on hand was based on intelligence inputs, which are sensitive and secret in nature, therefore, as a matter of policy and in the interest of national security, MHA does not disclose reasons for denial. It is submitted that the interim order passed by this Hon’ble Court if continued is defeating the purpose of the relevant guidelines and objective of obtaining the security clearance of MHA”, the statement said.
It also rejected the petitioner’s argument that it had given a request to MHA for security clearance but received no reply from the MHA directly as Ministry does not directly communicate with companies.
The company submitted its reply in which they said that they are unaware of the grounds of denial of security clearance since the same was never communicated to them nor were they a party in those proceedings.