The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it cannot disclose the reasons behind its ban on the Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV as it can have “unimaginable and far-reaching” consequences on national security, the Hindustan Times reported.

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 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. After examining the files, which were provided in a sealed cover, the court granted a stay on the ban.

The top court also told the Centre that the reasons behind the ban have to be disclosed to the channel so that they can defend themselves.

However, on Wednesday, the Centre refused to cite the reasons.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs has informed that the denial of security clearance is based on intelligence inputs, which are sensitive and secret,” the government said in an affidavit to the court. “Therefore, as a matter of policy and in the interest of the security of the state and its establishments, the MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] does not disclose the reasons for the denial.”

The Centre told the court that it can produce the files once again in a sealed cover if needed. Under this practice, the government and its agencies submit documents in sealed envelopes to the judges. The contents of the documents are not shared with the opposite party.

Notably, at a previous hearing of the case, a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud had criticised the practice of “sealed covers”.

On Wednesday, the Centre also denied the channel’s claim that a security clearance was not required for the renewal of licenses, PTI reported.

“If the interpretation as is sought to be given by the accepted, it would lead to a situation wherein the clearance granted by the MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] for once would operate perpetually, which would defeat the very purpose and object of grant of such security clearances.”