HC Refuses to Stay Centre's Warning to Tamil News Channel

New Delhi
HC Refuses to Stay Centre's Warning to Tamil News Channel

Delhi High Court today refused to stay a 'warning' issued to a Tamil news channel for allegedly airing contents critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Justice R S Endlaw did not stay the show cause notice saying there was no urgency at the moment and thus, no ex- parte order was called for.

Sathiyam TV had moved an application to stay the May 12 'warning', saying a fresh show cause notice was issued to it on August 26 regarding the programmes telecast on May 13, May 22 and May 29.

Its counsel told the court if a third "warning" or show cause notice is issued to it, it would be out of the business as its licence would be liable for cancellation as per the Cable Television Network (CTN) Rules.

The court, while refusing to stay the show cause notice, sought the response of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry by January 15 next year, when the main petition moved by the TV channel against an earlier show cause notice has been listed for hearing.

The channel on August 24 had moved a plea against the ministry's May 12 order holding that Sathiyam TV had violated certain provisions of Programme Code under the 1995 Cable Television Network (Cable) Act and the Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Rules.

The channel today denied the government's allegation and told the court that it went through the transcripts of the programme in dispute and there was no mention of the Prime Minister in it.

It also contended that the second show cause was issued only after it had challenged the May 12 order.

The 'warning' was issued to the channel for broadcasting a Biblical prayer and discussion show titled "Ungal Aseervatha Neram – Your Blessing Time" in December 2014 which allegedly contained statements from a religious preacher tarnishing the image of the Prime Minister.

In its main petition, the channel had termed the 'warning' as an "act of political censorship" and contended that no such statement against Prime Minster as alleged have been made.

It said the order of the Ministry was contrary to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution.

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