The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the Centre’s denial of security clearance to Malayalam news channel MediaOne, and criticised the Ministry of Home Affairs for making unsupported assertions about national security in “thin air”.
The Kerala High Court order that had upheld the Center’s decision to prohibit the channel’s telecast based on security was overturned by a bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud.
The top court ruled that criticism of government policies expressed by the channel cannot be characterised as anti-establishment since a free press is essential to a vibrant democracy.
“National security claims cannot be made out of thin air, there must be material facts backing it,” the bench said.
The Kerala High Court’s ruling upholding the Center’s decision to prohibit its telecast on security grounds was being challenged by the news channel in a petition before the Supreme Court. The Centre was severely criticised by the court for trying to file its justifications under “sealed cover” in order to conceal them.
“Sealed cover proceedings cannot be adopted to avoid the harm caused by public immunity proceedings. We are of the opinion that public immunity proceedings are a less restrictive means to safeguard the public interest,” said the top court.
“There cannot be a blanket immunity to the government for disclosure of information to the other parties in a proceeding before the court… All investigation reports cannot be termed secret as these affect the rights and liberty of the citizens,” it added.
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