Law

NDTV Challenges Ban Order in Supreme Court

The channel has been ordered to go off air for 24 hours for its coverage of the Pathankot attack. Credit: Twitter

The channel has been ordered to go off air for 24 hours for its coverage of the Pathankot attack. Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: NDTV announced today that it has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the IB ministry’s order, announced last week, for its Hindi channel, NDTV India, to go off air for a 24-hour period on November 9.

The ministry has accused the channel of broadcasting sensitive information during the terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot in January this year. The order to take the channel off air came after an inter-ministerial committee, constituted to investigate the matter, found NDTV India guilty of violating the government’s broadcasting norms.

The channel has countered the ministry’s allegations by pointing out that other channels and newspapers released the same information it is being punished for but were not penalised.

According to the Hindu, in a BSE filing, the company said it had filed a writ petition before the apex court, stating, “inter-alia challenging the constitutional validity of the said order and the provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed”.

IB minister Venkaiah Naidu defended the committee’s decision, saying it was not based on a “newly invented rule,” according to The Hindu. His comment was most likely in reference to a clause introduced in the Programming Code in June 2015, which states broadcasters are prohibited from, “live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes,” according to the Times of India.

Several news organisations and journalists have condemned the government’s decision to ban NDTV India. Notably, the Editors’ Guild of India called the order “unprecedented” and added that the Centre now appears to entrust itself with 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”.