The Shivcable Sena, an affiliate of the Shiv Sena, has written to cable television operators in Maharashtra to stop airing channels of Republic Media Network after its Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami allegedly insulted Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. The party accused Goswami of violating the Indian Constitution by “running a parallel court on the channel”.

In a letter dated September 10, Shivcable Sena threatened cable operators with protests if they failed to comply with the order. The letter was signed by Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Raut, who is the brother of party MP Sanjay Raut and Shivcable Sena General Secretary Vinay Patil. Raut and Transport Minister Anil Parab are the “pramukh margdarshaks” or the chief advisors of the party’s cable television operators’ wing.

“We are giving you a suggestion and warning that if you don’t immediately stop distributing Republic TV you will have to face severe agitation from the Shivcable Sena and many loyal Maharashtrians,” the letter said, according to The Print.

The Shivcable Sena added that Republic TV has been repeatedly breaking the ethical code of journalism and conducting media trials. “Maharashtra is blessed with a great tradition of journalism,” the letter added. “It is expected that journalists put people’s problems before the government to find a solution while staying within the code of ethics of journalism. Since some time now Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV, has been violating this code and the Indian Constitution and running a parallel court on his channel.”

Among those who received the letter were Den Networks, Hathway, InCablenet, GTPL, JPR Network, BRDS Network, UCN City Cable, Rajesh Multichannel, Mauli Cable and Bahuvidh Yantrana Parichalak Cable.

Patil said that any kind of disparaging remarks against Thackeray would not be tolerated. “The chief minister is a constitutional post and its disrespect would not be tolerated,” he said. “Thackeray has asked us not to take the law into our hand. But in this case, the law is on our side.”

The Shiv Sena leader added that Goswami had allegedly made derogatory remarks about the chief minister at least on two occasions. “Goswami has similarly disrespected State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Sanjay Raut and the Mumbai Police and its chief,” Patil told The Print. “Why should cable television operators here broadcast such news for the state and rest of Maharashtra?”

Bombay HC refuses to hear Republic TV’s plea

Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to intervene or pass any orders on plea by ARG Outlier Media, which runs Republic TV, Bar and Bench reported. The network had sought the court’s intervention in restraining cable television operators from taking the network’s channels off air after receiving threats from Shivcable Sena.

The Maharashtra government’s counsel Jyoti Chavan argued that a writ petition against the Shiv Sena was improper since the Sena was a “private entity”.

The bench of Justices Milind Jadhav and Nitin Jamdar disposed off the plea, saying network could approach the appropriate law enforcement authority against the Shiv Sena’s alleged intimidation. The court said the party’s alleged threats had no legal force since it was a private entity and could not impact the contractual relationship between Republic and the Cable TV Operators, nor its license to broadcast.

“The (...) Shiv Cable Sena is not a statutory authority to either supersede the license granted to the Petitioners or to interfere in the contractual/statutory relationship between the Petitioners and the Cable Network Operators,” the order said. “The communication issued by it has, therefore, no effect in law.”