A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday upheld Centre’s ban on Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV, Bar and Bench reported.

The court dismissed an appeal filed by the channel against a single judge’s verdict.

MediaOne TV had gone off air on January 31 after the Centre suspended its telecast citing “security reasons”. The channel is reportedly backed by the Kerala unit of Jamaat-e-Islami, a socio-religious political organisation that was declared “unlawful” by the Centre for five years in 2019. The Centre had said that the association’s activities were “prejudicial to internal security and public order”.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said that it examined the confidential files about the matter, and is convinced that there is a threat to national security, according to Live Law.

The bench held that the channel failed to show any legal error, or that the court lacked the authority to decide the case.

Ameen Hassan, the channel’s legal advisor said that it will file an appeal in the Supreme Court soon, according to the Bar and Bench.

On February 10, the court had reserved its judgement and refused to grant an interim stay on the single-judge bench verdict to uphold the ban.

On February 2, the single judge bench of Justice N Nagaresh had held that inputs from the home ministry files that recommended the cancellation of the security clearance of the channel justified the decision.

‘National security’ a ruse, alleges channel

Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which runs MediaOne TV, had said in its appeal that “threat to national security” was cited as a “ruse” to cancel the channel’s licence.

The appeal cited the Supreme Court’s observation at a hearing of the Pegasus spyware case in October. The court had said that the government could not get a “free pass every time the spectre of ‘national security’ is raised”.

“National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning,” the Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited appeal quoted from the Supreme Court judgement.

The appeal also said that the order of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to revoke the channel’s licence violated Article 19(1) of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech, and Article 14 which provides for equality before law.

The channel had said it was a “deplorable” fact that a showcause notice was issued when the channel applied for renewal of its licence. The appeal also stated that the licence had been revoked without any “genuine cause” and has put the lives of 350 employees in turmoil.