The Supreme Court on Tuesday put a stay on the ban imposed by the central government on Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV, Live Law reported.
The channel has been allowed to operate until a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath decides on a plea filed by the Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which runs the news channel.
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.
On March 2, the Kerala High Court had upheld the Centre’s ban on MediaOne TV citing national security. The High Court judges had said that certain confidential files provided by the Centre had convinced them that the channel posed a threat to national security.
The channel then approached the Supreme Court, which directed the Centre to produce the files based on which it had refused to renew the licence of the news channel.
In Tuesday’s order, the Supreme Court said that examination of the files made a prima facie case for interim relief for the channel, according to Live Law.
“We order and direct that Union Government order revoking security clearance to Madhyaman Broadcasting Ltd stands stayed,” the court said in its order, according to Bar and Bench. “Petitioner be allowed to run MediaOne on the same basis channel was being operated before security clearance was revoked.”
During the hearing, advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared on behalf of the channel, told the court that the channel had been functioning for 11 years.
“My [the channel’s] license was for 10 years...Two months after my actual period expired, they allowed me to continue,” ,” Dave submitted. “They granted me downlinking in 2019 for a period of 5 years Downlinking allows a communication channel to receive electronic messages from the satellite.”
He also argued that a security clearance was not required for the renewal of licenses, LiveLaw reported. “No media, publication or channel will be saved if this is accepted...Everybody can be shut down tomorrow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, while appearing for the Central government, said that the channel had engaged in personal attacks against the Kerala High Court on its YouTube channel after it was taken off air.
To this, Justice Chandrachud said that anybody is free to criticise court verdicts.
“Let us have some light and not heat,” Justice Chandrachud said. “There is complete freedom to criticize the judgment of courts.”