Media One Television Channel has moved the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court against the Single Judge's order, which upheld the Home Ministry's order revoking the channel's license on national security grounds.
The petitioner submitted that the revoking of the license violated Article 19 (1) of the Constitution, which espoused the freedom of speech and expression and Article 14, which stated that the State shall not deny to any person, equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
The Single Judge dismissed the plea of the petitioner after concluding that the inputs given by the intelligence agencies were of serious nature and it fell under the security rating parameters. The threat to national security was raised as a ruse to cancel the license of the channel, which did not have any basis, the channel submitted.
The Supreme Court, while holding that the scope of judicial review in matters of national security was limited, noted that the State cannot get a free pass every time the spectre of national security was raised. The court further held that national security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning, it said.
The channel submitted that the reliance placed by the Single Judge on ‘Atrisamhitha’ was improper as the issue involved in the matter should have been adjudicated strictly in tune with the Constitutional parameters and not by quoting archaic vedic verses.
Though the governments of yesteryears were tolerant to fair criticism, the recent trend was alarming as it choked the freedom of press and right to speech. No news channel will dare to broadcast any programme against the sweet will of the government as it may not be inconvenient for the government to forbid the channel by managing intelligence reports and other materials, the channel submitted.
The channel also submitted that the reliability of the intelligence report was also suspect and the revocation of the license without even affording any opportunity of hearing to it was unconstitutional.