NDTV on Monday said it has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against an order by the Information and Broadcasting ministry asking it to shut down its Hindi channel NDTV India for one day. NDTV has questioned whether the order is constitutional and challenged “the provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed”, Mint reported. NDTV had shared a letter announcing its writ petition with the Bombay Stock Exchange.
On November 3, the ministry had said NDTV India should be taken off the air for a day as penalty for revealing “strategically-sensitive” information while covering the Pathankot attack in January. An inter-ministerial panel claimed the channel had violated the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015. It alleged that the details disclosed by the channel could have been used by the militants to “cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”
The rule in question prohibits TV channels from “live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces”, and states that broadcasters should only provide “periodic briefings by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes.”
However, editors and media experts from across the country had condemned the order, saying it singled out NDTV India and gagged the press in the country. The Editors’ Guild of India had called it a “direct violation of the freedom of the media” and said the move was “reminiscent of the Emergency”. Terming the ban an attack on freedom of expression, the Mumbai Press Club had demanded that the move be withdrawn immediately. NDTV India had claimed that other channels had covered the events in the same way, and they had in fact been more balanced in their reportage than most.