NDTV Challenges 1-Day Ban On Hindi Channel In Supreme Court
Two days prior to the day of ban, NDTV has challenged the government’s one-day ban of its Hindi channel in the Supreme Court today. NDTV India has been ordered off-air on Wednesday with the government accusing it of broadcasting sensitive details of terror attack on air base in Pathankot in January.
In a report on its website, NDTV has refuted the allegations and pointed out that other channels and newspapers reported the same information. The ban is supposed to be implemented from 00:01 hrs on November 9, 2016 till 00:01 hrs of November 10, 2016.
Reportedly, this is the first ever such order against a TV channel over its coverage of a terror attack, the norms regarding which were notified in 2015. The ban has been widely condemned by journalists and editors with all press councils drawing parallels to the Emergency of the 1970s when basic constitutional rights including the freedom of the press were blatantly violated.
In a statement, the Editors’ Guild has condemned the ban and demanded that the decision be withdrawn immediately, saying it was reminiscent of the emergency period.
“The ostensible reason for the order as reported is that the channel’s coverage of Pathankot terror attack on January 2, 2016 that the government claims gave out sensitive information to the handlers of terrorists. NDTV, in its response to a show cause by the government, has maintained that its coverage was sober and did not carry any information that had not been covered by the rest of the media, and was in the public domain,” the statement read.
The decision to take the channel off air for a day was a violation of the freedom of media, it added.
Reportedly, it went on to say that the order was unprecedented and that the centre appears to have given itself the power “to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.” If the government finds any media coverage objectionable, it can approach the courts, Editors’ Guild said.
However, government has continued to defend its ban, saying freedom of press is important but the nation comes first. “We support freedom of press in a democracy but the nation comes first. There cannot be any compromise on national security,” Shrikant Sharma, BJP national secretary said.
Venkaiah Naidu, Information and Broadcasting Minister said over the weekend that it was “in the interest of the country’s security” and that the barrage of criticism confronted by the government appears “politically inspired.”
The decision drew sharp condemnation from the Opposition as well as government faced flak on social media.