The Union government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday (June 1) that renewal of licence to Jamaat-e-Islami Run Malayalam Propaganda Channel Media One was denied based on intelligence inputs which was ‘sensitive’ and ‘secret in nature’.
“It is submitted that MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has informed that the denial of security clearance is based on intelligence inputs, which are sensitive and secret in nature. Therefore, as a matter of policy and in the interest of security of the state and its establishments, the MHA does not disclose the reasons for denial,” read the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
It further added that all the relevant files related with the case were earlier produced before the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court and if the court asks for it again, it will be submitted in the court.
“It is further submitted that the MHA under section 124 of the Indian Evidence Act seeks privilege over its secret files and prays to this court that the contents of the files may not be disclosed to the petitioners, as such a disclosure may have far reaching and unimaginable consequences in so far as national security is concerned,” the affidavit read.
In an order issued on January 31, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, while declining renewal of licence of Media One, had said that the Union Home Ministry has declined to give the security clearance to the channel which is mandatory for the licence.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs has denied the security clearance to M/S. Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited (which runs Media One) for renewal of permission for uplinking and downlinking of News & Current Affairs TV channel “Media One”,” the order read.
The company had moved the Kerala High Court against the government order. The Kerala High Court had upheld the Union government’s order. Media One had moved the Supreme Court against the Kerala High Court judgment.
Media One had later submitted in the Supreme Court that security clearance was needed only for fresh licences and not for renewal.
Opposing this submission of Media One, the government said, “It is noteworthy, that the contention on behalf of the petitioner company that the security clearance of MHA is required only at the time of initial permission and in case of renewal no such permission is required is fallacious and contrary to the provisions of the uplinking and downlinking guidelines.”
“Further, if the interpretation as is sought to be given by the petitioner to the uplinking and downlinking guidelines, is accepted, it would lead to a situation wherein the clearance granted by the MHA for once would operate perpetually, which would defeat the very purpose and object of grant of such security clearances,” it added.
The ministry had also denied Media One permission for appointment of two new directors M Mehaboob and Abdul Razack.