The ban on Malayalam news station Media One TV was confirmed by a division bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday, dismissing the appeals of the management and journalists who had appealed a February 9 single-bench judgment that had refused to lift it.
In response to the decision, Media One TV said that they would file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chali held that when certain issues involving the security of the state are involved, the government is free to refuse to renew the license granted without giving the full grounds for the refusal.
Based on the report of the Intelligence Bureau and other investigating authorities, the division bench observed that certain features of the files produced before it harm public order or the security of the state.
After the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declined to give the channel clearance for “security grounds,” the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry prohibited the station.
The ban on the channel, which is backed by the Kerala chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami, was upheld by a single bench of the high court on February 9. Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which owns Media One TV, appealed to the division bench on February 11 against the single bench order. The bench listened intently to the I&B Ministry and the media house before reserving the orders.
“Certain issues relating to the security of the State have cited to the effect that Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited has some ties with certain undesirable forces, which is alleged to be a security threat,” the division bench observed on Wednesday (March 2).
“State security and public order are highly important for the fair and peaceful operation of the nation,” the bench said, “and so, importance and relevance shall be given to the interests of the residents of this country, rather than other factors.” We believe that the learned single Judge was correct in declining to interfere with the Union Government’s order refusing to renew Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited’s uplinking and downlinking permission for telecast operations through ‘Media One TV,’ taking into account all relevant factors, including the contents of the confidential files produced before us.”
The Union government had told the court that the MHA had created a committee of officers based on recommendations from several intelligence agencies and that the security clearance for the channel should not be renewed.
Following a review of materials given by the MHA, the single bench of N Nagaresh concluded that there were material and intelligence reports supporting the channel’s prohibition.
In 2020, the channel was subjected to a 48-hour suspension over its coverage of the Delhi riots.