Chennai

Sun group gets a lifeline from HC

Clearing the air:The Sun group operates 45 FM stations across the country.— File Photo  

: The Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside the order of the Union Government denying security clearance to Sun Group companies that had made them ineligible to participate in the phase-III auctions for FM radio broadcasting.

Relying on the classified reports of the Intelligence Bureau (Ministry of Home Affairs) in the custody of the High Court, Justice M. Duraiswamy said, “It is clear that the petitioner companies or its directors/key executives have not come to any adverse notice from the security point of view. In these circumstances, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs should not have denied security clearance to the companies.”

Justice M. Duraiswamy passed the order on eight writ pleas moved by Sun Network Ltd, Kal Radio Ltd, South Asia FM Ltd, and Udaya FM Private Ltd seeking to quash the order of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting dated July 15, 2015 and allow them to migrate to FM Phase-III regime. Sun group, which operates about 45 FM stations across the country, found itself out of the list of applicants eligible to participate in the phase-III auctions, triggering a major controversy. Later, the Sun group was served with a communication stating that the applications of the company were rejected on the grounds that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has denied it security clearance.

The Home Ministry (MHA) said it had refused security clearance to the petitioner companies, given the Aircel-Maxis and illegal telephone exchange cases (both investigated by the CBI), and a probe into money-laundering charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The MHA stated that the charges of economic offences are of a serious nature adversely affecting the economic integrity of the country.

‘No history of conviction’

Considering the detailed arguments put forth by both the parties, the judge noted that the petitioner companies are in operation for over 10 years. So far, no complaint has emerged with regard to breach of national security by the radio channels.

“None of the petitioners were convicted in the cases mentioned by the MHA. In the telephone exchange case, even the investigation is yet to be completed,” Justice Duraiswamy added.

The judge further noted that the MHA has got the right to deny security clearance to the petitioner companies, but it has to be done on well-founded grounds and within the four corners of law.

Returning the bids made by the petitioner companies placed in sealed covers as per an interim direction of the court, the judge directed the Union Government and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to announce the names of successful bidders subject to other conditions being fulfilled by the applicants.



“Petitioner companies have not come to any adverse notice from security

point of view”




Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 6:08:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/Sun-group-gets-a-lifeline-from-HC/article14422578.ece

Next Story