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Relief for Maran as AG backs security clearance to Sun TV channels

MUMBAI: In what may come as a major relief for Kalanithi Maran’s Sun TV Network, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi today said that the government should grant security clearance to the company’s 33 television channels.

Rohatgi opined that filing of criminal charges in economic offences against the owners was not ground enough to deny security clearance to the Sun Group. Charges have not yet been framed against the accused by the trial courts.

Rohatgi also pointed out that that this would not only result in the infringement of the right of the owners to broadcast but also the right of the viewers to get information, both safeguarded under the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) had sought Rohatgi’s opinion after its request to grant security clearance to the channels was disregarded by the Rajnath Singh’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The AG’s opinion is generally accepted by the government, although it is not binding on it to do so.

The news reflected positively on Sun TV stock which zoomed 7.86 per cent to Rs 333.55.

Meanwhile, Kalanithi Maran has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Sun TV Network and its FM radio companies were being singled out by the MHA in the security clearance matter, reported The Indian Express.

In his letter dated 10 June, Maran detailed 16 media groups with promoters or directors having criminal cases. The Sun TV promoter said that the MHA had not denied security clearance to these companies despite the pendency of criminal cases/investigations against them.

The letter to the PM comes on the heels of Maran writing to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Arun Jaitley.

The MHA had denied security clearance to Sun TV Network’s television and FM radio channels on the ground that there are several criminal investigations pending against Sun TV and the Marans.

Earlier, Maran had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh asking him to intervene in the matter and grant security clearance to Sun TV and its radio stations.

The MHA was reportedly considering reviewing its decision. However, the MHA finally decided not to respond to Maran’s letter, thus prompting the Sun TV chief to write to the PM.

Meanwhile, the MHA and 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.

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