Supreme Court puts stay on Union govt’s ban on MediaOne TV channel

The Supreme Court on Tuesday put a stay on the ban imposed by the Union government on Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV.

The channel has been allowed to operate until a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath decide on a plea filed by the Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which runs the news channel.

“We order and direct that Union Govt order revoking security clearance to Madhyaman Broadcasting Ltd stands stayed. Petitioner be allowed to run MediaOne on the same basis channel was being operated before security clearance was revoked,” the Court said.

“This order is not an expression on the tenability of files being examined to the exclusion of the petitioner…”, the bench observed in the order.

MediaOne TV had gone off air on January 31 after the Union suspended its telecast citing “security reasons.”

The Court also directed the Union government to file its counter affidavit in the matter.

Senior Lawyer Dushyant Dave, appearing for the channel, said that the channel had functioned for 11 years.

“My license was for 10 years. 2 months after my actual period expired, they allowed me to continue. They granted me downlinking in 2019 for a period of 5 years,” he submitted.

“No media, publication, or channel will be saved if this is accepted. everybody can be shut down tomorrow,” Dave said.

“How can a democratically elected government deny to produce records and deny freedom of speech and expression. this is completely covered by a judgment of this court. This channel is being shut down just because it is owned by minority individuals,” he said.

Mediaone TV is the only Muslim-owned private satellite channel in India. “For 6 weeks we are shut down simply because we are run by some members of the minority community. What else it is,” Dave said.

Global journalist bodies, Opposition leaders and media fraternity across the country had backed the channel and called out the Union government’s action “arbitrary”.

In March 2020, the Union govt imposed a 48-hour ban on MediaOne for its reportage on the Delhi pogrom alleging “channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”