I&B Ministry urges MHA to take a tough stand in economic offenders owning TV/ Radio channels

I&B changes stance, wants MHA to vet all security clearances of Media channels

I&B changes stance, wants MHA to vet all security clearances of Media channels
I&B changes stance, wants MHA to vet all security clearances of Media channels

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry under Smriti Irani has decided to tighten the parameters of security clearances in allotting TV and Radio channels. In a strong letter to Home Secretary, the I&B Secretary said that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should take stand on the security clearance in the cases of owners of the TV and Radio channels, considering their involvement in economic offences or crimes including under Prevention of Corruption Act.

…the I&B has now changed its stand arguing that the MHA should be the sole authority and it should not be limited to giving mere inputs on the economic or corruption case about the promoters applying for licenses.

Till early 2015, MHA was in complete control of the issue of security clearances to promoters of the TV and Radio channels. The MHA wings were clipped after the intervention of the then I&B Minister Arun Jaitley who favored allowing SUN TV Group in attending radio licences auction, ignoring the fact that the politically powerful Maran family was charged in many cases. Though MHA initially objected, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was forced to dilute his objections. After this incident, an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was formed and MHA’s powers were limited to national security and integrity angles. The MHA will only give inputs or observations regarding the economic offences or other crimes involvement of promoters and the IMC will take a final call on this regard.

The next I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu also dilly dallied on this case. Now I&B Ministry under Smriti Irani has decided to stop this dilution in policy.

In a letter dated August 23, I&B Secretary NK Sinha had written to the then Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi that the MHA should take a call on this issue and that economic offenders running TV or Radio channels could even lead to a misuse right of freedom of speech and expression and be detrimental to the society.

However, the I&B has now changed its stand arguing that the MHA should be the sole authority and it should not be limited to giving mere inputs on the economic or corruption case about the promoters applying for licenses. “As may be seen from the above, often the information/ observations is quite sensitive and due diligence would need to be done before arriving at any conclusion failing which the whole purpose of obtaining the security clearance would be meaningless. Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) is not equipped to dig deep into the information provided by the MHA as if requires expert analysis.

“Moreover, the Ministry also does not have information on day to day development of the cases mentioned by MHA. Thus, it would become very difficult for MIB to take any unilateral decision on such cases. Sometimes the information is about cases that have been closed, or those that are under examination / prosecution by Courts or Regulatory Authorities,” said I&B reiterating that MHA should take full responsibly on the antecedents of the promoters of TV and Radio channels.

The letter shows that the I&B has asked MHA to take a stand on 43 cases of applications. In these 43 cases, MHA gave adverse inputs about the involvement of the promoters in economic offences, without any opinion. The two page letter is published below this article.

The I&B Ministry also rejected the legal opinion given by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in favour of Sun TV.  The former AG had opined that involvement in economic offences would not hamper the Fundamental Right to carry business activities.

“However, I would like to mention that if some loaded content or false, deliberate, malicious content gets aired, a common man not having complete knowledge of that filed is more likely to accept it at its face value. Thus, if economic offenders run the channels and misuse the right of freedom of speech and expression, it may be detrimental to the society,” said the I&B Secretary rejecting the view of the former AG and asking the MHA to take full responsibility in giving security clearances.

Now it is the turn of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to take a call to take a strong stand on economic and other offenders trying to become the owners of news organisations. Will he?

The letter from I&B Secretary to Home Secretary is published below:

I&B Sec Letter to Home Sec Aug-2017 by PGurus on Scribd

Team PGurus

8 COMMENTS

  1. Congress has made all systems with full of loopholes to enable it’s leaders to occupy important places in important systems to weaken India and to make it divisive.The present govt should cleanse all the systems from those antinational supporters and frame new guidelines so that no antinational gets any exemptions.

  2. Looks like too many Congress moles in the various ministries who had enjoyed the loots along with Congress, DMK and other political goons. BJP needs really firm ministers to handle them. Arun J seems too wishy washy Rajnath seems too old for his job- transfer the whole finace & home ministray staff to some remote places and engage fresh pnes preferably young ones who wants to do good for the country

    BJP may not get a second chance if it does not correct its errors soon.

    Worst case, if Cong gets to power it will wipe out BJP Hence do not be too decent to any cong, DMK, Mamta etc crooks – just whip them from the face of earth

  3. Modi did and does a lot of high talk about anti corruption and black money, real action next to nothing. Same happened during Vajpayee and Advani.

    • During Vajpayee’s PMship too, the BJP shouted from the roof tops about corruption, Bofors, black money and so on but did nothing. The same is the case under Modi. A lot of high talk, low action.

  4. Good move….
    Maran brothers and their suntv , kalaignar TV network should be questioned for their misuse of telecom industry earlier where they obtained different licenses and transmission equipments…
    For treatment of their father in America they used government money as if they are not capable of spending…
    Had the influence to setup their fathers statue in parliament…
    How did they excise this much power..
    Sun TV n kalaignar TV always give false news, one sided news favourable to their stand in politics…

    And mr. Jaitley supports them… Who are the real culprits in defaming all central government policies and spreading it wide across the world..

    They don’t read news… They make news…

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