The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on March 10 a plea by MediaOne opposing the decision of the Kerala High Court to uphold the Centre’s refusal to renew the Malayalam television channel’s licence, reported The Hindu.
The channel’s lawyers Dushyant Dave and Haris Beeran mentioned the plea before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.
Dave sought an urgent listing of the matter, saying it was “too serious” as it concerns the freedom of the press as well as right to information, according to Live Law.
On March 2, the Kerala High Court upheld the Centre’s ban on MediaOne TV citing national security. The High Court had referred to some confidential files and passed the order.
Dave on Monday told the Supreme Court that the channel had functioned for 11 years and has 350 employees and millions of viewers. “We have been shut down due to some secret files from Home Ministry and the court has justified it behind out back,” he added, according to Live Law.
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”.
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.
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.
After the High Court’s verdict on March 2, the channel’s lawyer had said that an appeal will be filed in the Supreme Court.
The Malayalam news channel said that its licence renewal is a “matter of right” as it has never had any government complaints in 10 years of its operation, according to The Hindu.
It also said that security clearance is required only while applying for a licence for the first time.
The news channel also referred to what the Supreme Court said regarding the Pegasus spyware case, that the state cannot get a free pass every time “national security” is mentioned.