With Centre putting on hold its order directing Television news channel NDTV India to go off-air for a day, Supreme Court has decided to hear the matter on December 5 now. The apex court decided to defer the hearing after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said there was no real urgency as Union I&B ministry decided to hold its decision Monday evening following its meeting with the NDTV representatives.
The Attorney General also told the bench, comprising Justices AK Sikri and NV Ramana, that NDTV will be given a hearing by the inter-ministerial committee before whom it sought the review of its November 3 order.
Information and Broadcasting ministry’s inter-ministerial panel had ordered the NDTV India to go off-air for 24-hours from 00:01 hrs on 9th November till 00:01 hrs of 10th November, 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 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The editor’s body also demanded that the order be “immediately rescinded”.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) and other media bodies strongly condemned the order.
Several political parties too had taken on the Central government condemning the order.