Jamaat-e-Islami’s MediaOne Case: Supreme Court Asks Centre Why Reasons For Ban Not Provided To Channel
Additional Solicitor General Nataraj said that the details were sensitive and could not be shared with the channel management.
ASG offered to share it with the court in a sealed cover.
A Supreme Court bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli asked the centre as to why does it think that the reason(s) for the ban on MediaOne do not have to be provided to the affected party.
The centre had refused to renew the license of the channel in January citing national security. The channel was then taken off air for a few months till the Supreme Court allowed it to resume telecast in an interim order.
Justice D Y Chandrachud said: “You are not saying they have committed a crime under the law. Even when a crime is conducted under the law and a chargesheet is filed after investigation, the essence of the investigation is disclosed in the chargesheet.
"However sensitive your investigation is… once you complete the investigation and file a chargesheet, the chargesheet discloses the material on the basis of which you register an offence.”
To this, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Nataraj said that the details were sensitive and could not be shared with the channel management. He offered to share it with the court in a sealed cover like it was done when the case was heard by the Kerala High Court. The Kerala High Court had upheld the ban.
Not convinced by Nataraj’s argument the apex court said, “The very essence of court proceedings is any material that is relied on by one party is disclosed to the other party.”
It also said that the government can redact the details to protect the sources of the information but the information must be provided to the court as well as the affected party. It asked the ASG to look into the doubts raised by the bench and reply during the next hearing.
Giving an example the court said ,“suppose they are engaged in international hawala transactions, you have to say that it has come to your knowledge that they are engaged in international hawala transactions. You can’t merely say that security clearance has been denied to you”.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave who appeared for the channel said, “My only crime appears to be that this channel is owned by members belonging to a minority community.” He also said that not showing documents to the other side will set a “dangerous precedent”.
Subsequently, arguing for press freedom, he said that it can be restricted only on the grounds mentioned under Article 19(2). With regards to the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, he submitted that there is no need for security clearance for renewal of broadcast and that there has not been a single instance of violation of Programme Code by the channel.
Dave added that the channel is widely respected and that people across all sections of society and politics participate in its programmes.
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