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Arun Jaitley questions Home Ministry’s decision to refuse security clearance to Sun Network’s radio brands

MUMBAI: Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Arun Jaitley has written to the Home Minister Rajnath Singh questioning him over his decision to refuse security clearance to Sun TV Network’s radio brands Suryan FM and Red FM.

Jaitley has requested Singh to clarify why his Ministry had rejected security clearance to Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network’s group companies that operate 45 radio channels under the brand name Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in rest of the country, The Indian Express reported. Jaitley is said to have asked Singh to review his Ministry’s decision.

The issue of security clearance came up last month when the network through its four subsidiaries had to give its consent for migration to renew the licences of its radio channels from Phase II to Phase III. The renewal requires fresh security clearances from the Home Ministry.

As reported by TelevisionPost.com earlier, Suryan FM was denied the security clearance and hence approached the Madras High Court for relief in the matter. Hearing the writ petition, the court granted relief to continue operations till 16 June 2015.

However, the matter has not been resolved completely. I&B secretary Bimal Julka told IE, “I have now written to the Home Secretary to expedite a response to the I&B Minister’s letter.”

The Home Ministry’s reply is crucial since the Ministry would have to cancel the licence if the decision isn’t revoked.

The report adds that Ministry officials reminded the Home Ministry about the embarrassment they faced after the Madras High Court struck down I&B’s order cancelling the licence of multi-system operator Kal Cables on 5 September 2014. The licence of the TV channel distribution company owned by the Maran family was cancelled by the I&B ministry following security clearance rejection by the Home Ministry.

Kalanithi is the brother of Dayanidhi Maran and son of former Union Commerce and Industry Minister, the late Murasoli Maran.

IE states that the security clearance was denied because of the on-going CBI case against the Marans on the Aircel-Maxis deal. I&B Ministry is learnt to have said that both these issues were distinct and should not be linked.