New Delhi: Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s opinion favouring security clearance to Sun TV has raised concerns among Home Ministry officials as they fear it might compromise the country’s “economic security”.
The charges of money laundering are viewed very seriously across the world as it directly affects economic security of any country and Sun TV’s promoters Kalanithi Maran and his brother former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran, facing a probe of similar nature, official sources said here today.
Economic security is not different from national security as defined by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Home Ministry took the decision at the highest level after careful considerations of relevant provisions of the UAPA vis-a-vis the offences being probed against the Maran brothers, the sources said.
They said the Ministry will stick to its position but remained non-committal whether it would review the decision if a fresh request comes from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting along with the AG’s opinion.
“We do not give licences. We only give security clearances. The I&B Ministry is free to take a call depending on the AG’s opinion,” a source said.
The AG has supported grant of security clearance to 33 channels of Sun TV network, saying the corruption and money laundering cases being investigated against the Marans cannot be ground to deny it.
The Maran brothers are facing a CBI probe over alleged allotment of 300 high-speed BSNL telephone lines to their installations. There are two other pending criminal probes against Sun TV Network and Kalanithi Maran — CBI’s Aircel- Maxis case and an Enforcement Directorate case of money laundering.
The AG was approached by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to seek the opinion after the Home Ministry denied security clearance to the network.
In his opinion, the Attorney General has said that security clearance can be granted as agencies are probing cases related to corruption and not security. Hence, he said, corruption cases cannot be the ground to deny security clearance.
The I&B Ministry issues broadcasting licences for which companies require a security nod from MHA. The network had applied to the I&B Ministry for renewing its broadcasting licence for 10 years for which it needed the MHA nod.