The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seems determined in their verdict on Sun TV Network and does not look to budget from their decision anytime soon. Following Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s decision favoring the network, the home ministry does not seem to agree with his views. Home Ministry officials were quoted by media reports saying the Ministry does not agree with his legal opinion on the issue.
In fact, the MHA has now passed put the ball in the Ministry of Information & Broadcast (MIB)’s court stating that the MIB has to move the file back to the Home Ministry for a fresh review. An official had stated the promoters of the group faced serious charges of money laundering and corruption and that it was a threat to the economic security of the country. “Our domain is to extend security clearance and the case examined by us clearly states that the owner of Sun TV is facing serious charges, including money laundering, which affects the economic security of the country. In such a situation, the ministry cannot give security clearance. Now it’s up to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to make a decision first (moving the file back to the Home Ministry for fresh review) and then we will see,” a home ministry official said in a media report.
The MIB had sought out the legal opinion of the Attorney General after it tried to convince the home ministry did not work. Rohatgi after reviewing the case gave his opinion saying that denying security clearance to 33 channels of Sun TV Network on the basis that the promoters are being investigated for corruption cases is not legal. He said that corruption cases cannot be the ground to deny security clearance. He further added that security clearance can be granted as agencies are cases related to corruption and not national security. The Attorney General’s opinion is generally considered by the government but is not binding for them to follow it.
The promoter of Sun TV Network has written to the Prime Minister following no reply received post writing to the Home Minister Rajnath Singh. In the letter he wrote that the Sun TV Network and the radio channels were being singled out by the MHA in granting security clearance. It was also report that he had mentioned 16 media groups with promoters and directors facing criminal cases and said that the MHA has not denied giving them security clearances despite having pending cases against them.
It remains to be seen what Sun TV Network’s or MIB’s next move will be as it was expected that post the legal counsel of the Attorney General favoring the network the MHA would grant the clearance.