Delhi HC stays MIB order cancelling News7 Tamil’s licence

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has granted interim stay on the ministry of information and broadcasting’s (MIB) order cancelling the TV channel licence of Alliance Broadcasting, which operated a news channel under the name News7 Tamil.

The ministry had withdrawn the permission granted to the company on 23 April following the denial of security clearance by the ministry of home affairs (MHA).

The company had received a show cause notice from I&B ministry on 29 November 2017 stating that its licence stands revoked as the security clearance has been withdrawn.

The company had met the joint secretary of I&B ministry on 23 April where it had made its contentions. However, on 23 May, the I&B ministry passed an order rejecting the company’s contentions and repeated that as security clearance has been withdrawn, the permission to operate has to be cancelled.

The ministry had also rejected the company’s application for renewal of the permission for another 10 years.

Alliance Broadcasting had alleged that the order was “illegal and unsustainable in law”. It pleaded before the court that the 23 May order be set aside. It also sought a direction to the ministry to proceed with its renewal application and disclose the reasons for withdrawal of security clearance by the MHA.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notices to MHA and MIB and has listed the matter for further hearing in June during the summer vacations.

During the hearing, Union of India standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, appearing for both the ministries, said the allegations against the company were serious and the decision to withdraw security clearance was based on the inputs of the Intelligence Bureau.

The company a licence to uplink and downlink a news and current affairs TV channel in English and other regional languages in January 2007. The permission was granted for 10 years. The original licence was issued under the name ‘Real Estate’ which was subsequently changed to News7 Tamil.