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Why Supreme Court reversed home ministry's order to ban Media One TV?

08:45 PM Apr 05, 2023 IST | sanya raghwa
why supreme court reversed home ministry s order to ban media one tv

Sanya Raghwa, News Desk | On Thursday, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on a Malayalam media channel, Media One TV.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had put a ban on MediaOne. This decision came when MHA had put a ban on the Malayalam media channel’s telecast under certain “security reasons”.


The Supreme Court on Thursday announced its decision of reversing this ban against the decision of the Kerala high court who upheld the Central government’s order.

Why Media One TV was banned?

The Ministry of Home Affairs had refused to renew the broadcasting license of Media One Tv under security grounds. The Ministry of Home Affairs claims that MediaOne Tv is linked with Jamaat-E-Islami.


The bench presided by Chief Justice of India Chandrachud and Hima Kohli lifted the ban after a plea made by the Malayalam TV channel Media One. The editors of the channel said that denying the renewal of the broadcasting license for security clearance is an order that the government cannot refuse to look into. The editor further said that at least the Centre should provide certain reasons for denying the renewal of its license so that the channel can defend itself accordingly.  

The top court very carefully read the confidential documents that the Kerala high court had already perused. The Supreme Court heard the plea made by MediaOneTv against the Kerala high court’s verdict of supporting the Central government’s decision.


The court asked senior advocate Huzefa Ahmedi to provide information regarding the shareholding pattern of the channel and how the revenue is divided. Advocate Ahmedi said that there are many other broadcasting channels that require the renewal of a license. Those channels could have also been targeted. If the Centre does not provide the channel with reasonable arguments to deny the renewal of its license, then how can the channel back its arguments?

‘The state cannot defy its citizens of the basic rights in the name of national security.’

The top court further made a statement that the state cannot use “national security” as a tool to deny citizens the basic remedies listed under the law. It is considered to be incompatible with the law. Without any strong evidence, the state cannot defy its citizens of the basic rights in the name of “national security”. Refusing the decision of the renewal of the broadcasting license cannot be taken without backing it with strong and legitimate arguments and evidence, the apex court said.


The channel said that security clearance was only required at the time of fresh permission and not during the renewal. The high court denied the plea made by the operator of Media One Tv, Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd. who challenged the central government’s decision taken on January 31st.

The bench announced the verdict of renewing the broadcasting license of Media One Tv within the time frame of 4 weeks. It further pointed out that the way the Centre raised the claim of national security and the way the high court adopted the seal cover procedures was done in a “cavalier manner”. The court said passing an order for the non-renewal of the license without any strong inferences is seen as a matter of restriction on freedom of the press according to Article 19(2) of the constitution.

Emphasizing press freedom the court said that press freedom is extremely important for the proper functioning of a democratic republic. A free press has the power to bring truth and hard facts in front of the public enabling them to make the right decision both for themselves and for the upliftment of their state. Restriction and control of the press will make the citizens look at a story only from one perspective. These political ideologies can hamper democracy.

The top court says that if a channel speaks against a policy of the ruling government then it’s considered “anti-establishment”. The term “anti-establishment” itself claims that the press should always agree with the establishment of the ruling party.

Since JEIH is not a banned organization then there is no harm even if the channel is said to have links with it. Anyways, there was no evidence found that the channel was linked with JEIH. Hence the decision of denying the renewal of the license of the channel is not considered ethical and legitimate according to the SC. 

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