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Govt appeals against Madras HC’s relief to Kalanithi Maran-owned Kal Cables

MUMBAI: More trouble is in store for Kalanithi Maran-promoted Kal Cables as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) have filed an appeal in the Madras High Court against the single-bench order that set aside the MIB’s directive to cancel the licence of the multi-system operator (MSO).

The division bench of Justices Sathish K Agnihotri and M Venugopal has admitted the appeals. The bench also issued a notice to Kal Cables and adjourned the matter till 1 July.

The government has contended that the MSO licence to Kal was given on the condition that the licence could be revoked if the MHA denies security clearance.

The MIB, it contended, had no other option but to cancel the licence of the MSO since the security clearance was denied.

The MIB had in August 2014 cancelled Kal’s MSO licence for digital addressable system (DAS) areas due to denial of security clearance by the MHA. Kal had got a stay order on the MIB’s cancellation diktat in September 2014.

Questioning the MIB’s rationale behind cancelling the registration, Justice V Ramasubramanian had observed that if Kal’s registration was cancelled due to alleged activities of the promoters, then on that basis the licences of Sun TV Network, which has the same promoters, had not been revoked, particularly since the role of an MSO is very limited and smaller than that of a commercial television channel.

Recently, the MHA had denied security clearance to Sun Group’s television and FM radio channels. The MIB had questioned the MHA’s rationale behind denying security clearance.

Sun Group chairperson Kalanithi Maran had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh requesting him to grant security clearance to his TV as well FM radio channels. He contended that Sun TV was never involved in any anti-national or criminal activity.

He also contended that the ground on which the MHA has denied security clearance to Sun TV Network is untenable and that his company was being singled out.

“There are several TV and FM radio companies, including some controlled by very large business conglomerates, which among them have pending cases involving 2G spectrum, corporate espionage at the Ministry of Petroleum, corruption involving disproportionate assets and extortions. Security clearances for these media companies have not been revoked,” Maran said in his letter.