NDTV challenges one-day off-air order in Supreme Court

RSTV Bureau

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Television news channel NDTV has moved Supreme Court challenging the one-day ban of its Hindi channel NDTV India. The Information and Broadcasting ministry’s inter-ministerial panel had last week ordered the NDTV India to go off-air for 24-hours after concluding that it revealed strategically sensitive information during their live coverage of terror attack on Pathankot air base early this year.

NDTV, on its part, has refuted the allegations and claimed in its defence that other news channels and newspapers had also reported the same information.

Filing a writ in the apex court on Monday morning, it has now challenged the “constitutional validity” of the government panel’s order and the “provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed.”

The November 3 order has thus far come under sharp criticism of several media bodies. The Editors Guild of India strongly condemned the decision, terming it a “direct violation” of the freedom of the press.

“The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency,” the Editors Guild said in its statement released after panel announced its decision.

The editor’s body also demanded that the order be “immediately rescinded”. Along with the Editors Guild, Press Club of India, The Broadcast Editors Association (BEA), Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) too strongly condemned the order.

Several political parties too had taken on the Central government condemning the order.

Meanwhile, the Central government defended the action, saying it was taken in the interest of the “country’s safety and security”. Union Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said the decision against NDTV India was not based on any newly invented rule and principle.

“The ground on which action has been proposed against NDTV India was only a logical conclusion of concerns clearly articulated by the UPA Government in various advisories issued after 26/11 terror attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai in 2008,” he said.

According to the order, NDTV India will have to remain off-air with effect from 00:01 hrs on 9th November till 00:01 hrs of 10th November.