Kerala High Court verdict on MediaOne appeal against ban on Wednesday

Besides the channel, appeals were also moved by some of its employees, including its Editor

Kochi: The Kerala High Court is likely to pronounce on Wednesday its verdict on Malayalam news channel MediaOne's appeal against a single judge order upholding the Centre's decision to stop its telecast by not renewing its licence.

Besides the channel, appeals were also moved by some of its employees, including its Editor, as well the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) whose pleas against the Centre's decision were also rejected by the single judge on February 8.

According to the cause list uploaded on the high court website, it will pronounce the verdict in all three appeals on Wednesday.

Madhyamam Broadcasting Ltd, which operates MediaOne, had claimed in its appeal that it has been "victimised" for fair and genuine news reporting.

It had contended that the reason -- of threat to national security -- cited by the Centre to justify the ban, was only a "ruse" and "without any basis". It had also argued that no fresh security clearance was required under the relevant provisions of the uplinking and downlinking guidelines for renewal of license.

Senior advocate Jaju Babu, who represented the channel's editor, other employees and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), had argued before the court that the ban on the channel was imposed without hearing it first as is required under the relevant rules.

Babu had also contended before the bench that freedom of press, freedom of speech and expression and the right to livelihood, provided under the Constitution, have been violated by the Centre's decision of January 31.

The Centre, on the other hand, had argued that where national security was concerned, reasons for denial of security clearance need not be provided and principles of natural justice -- like giving a hearing, do not apply.

It had also told the bench that as per the uplinking and downlinking guidelines, security clearance was mandatory even for renewal of license.

The single judge had said the denial of security clearance to MediaOne by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was "justified" based on the inputs received from intelligence agencies.

The single judge came to that conclusion after perusing the files produced by MHA.

The court had also said that according to the downlinking guidelines, even at the time of considering renewal of permission, security clearance was mandatory.

This was not the first time the channel has faced such a bar on its operation.

MediaOne, along with another Malayalam News channel, Asianet, was briefly suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of communal violence in Delhi in 2020, with the official orders saying they covered the violence in a manner that "highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community".

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