Home Ministry’s (MHA) contradicting stands in issue of Security Clearance
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n a bizarre incident, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has filed two contradicting affidavits in Supreme Court and Delhi High Court regarding the issue of Security Clearance to media houses in running Radio/ TV channels. In what could be only be termed a highly dubious act in the Supreme Court (SC), on February the MHA diluted its stand on security clearance allotted to Sun TV Group’s FM Radio channels, excusing them because of hte the economic situation in the sector and toughened its stand in Delhi High Court in March on Haryana-based TV channel – STV. Interestingly both contradicting stands were filed by the same officer!
So Jaitley the FM was for prosecuting the Marans but not Jaitley the I & B Minister!
In the SC on SUN TV’s security clearance related case, in what can only be termed as protecting the Maran brothers, the MHA said that security clearance cannot be withheld if promoters of the company are facing prosecution. MHA further argued that the security clearance will be an issue if a court convicts a person!. In the past, in many cases, the MHA has rejected security clearance due to promoters facing prosecution by various agencies. Was this an instance of the Maran Money Power at play? Note that the Maran brothers are currently facing trial in illegal telephone exchange case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had already filed appeals against the discharge of Maran brothers in the Aircel-Maxis case.
The Ministry was responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for creating a national policy on issuing security clearances to companies. Home Ministry filed the affidavit on February 21.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]ome Ministry also informed the apex court that a recently formed Cabinet Secretariat headed body is the ultimate authority in issuing security clearances in consultation with the concerned Ministry and Finance Ministry. MHA’s powers were curtailed in September 2016, after the controversy on the Sun TV security clearance issue, after the promoters Maran brothers were charge sheeted in Aircel-Maxis and illegal telephone exchange cases. Though it objected first, MHA diluted its stand later. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was also then I & B Minister even, wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh for allowing security clearance to Sun TV Group in FM Radio auction. The irony was that MHA was acting on the actions of Enforcement Directorate, which is also under Finance Ministry (FM). So Jaitley the FM was for prosecuting the Marans but not Jaitley the I & B Minister! In a previous article, PGurus had pointed out how similar conflicts can arise between Finance and Defence Departments.
The affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court by MHA shows the decisions on the issuing security clearances for the past decade, where the Intelligence Bureau Report was considered as the prime decision maker.
Swamy approached the apex court for the formulation of national policy after the contradicting judgments from different High Courts.
But within a month on March 29 in Delhi High Court, MHA took a tough stand on another TV channel’s security related issue. Opposing Haryana-based STV’s petition, MHA retained its authority in granting security clearance. In this case, none of the Directors of the company were facing cases and the only issue was that the promoters were related to controversial Haryana politician Gopal Kanda, who has been embroiled in many cases. Taking a U-turn from the Sun TV case, MHA said the Intelligence Bureau’s adverse reports are the ultimate in taking decisions on providing security clearances.
The affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court by MHA shows the decisions on the issuing security clearances for the past decade, where the Intelligence Bureau Report was considered as the prime decision maker. Only in the high profile Sun TV Group’s case, MHA has taken a diluted stand, arguing for the economic aspect in the sector. All channels are equal but some are more equal?!
In his rejoinder filed in Supreme Court, Subramanian Swamy argued that there should be a National Policy on the issue of security clearance and loopholes have resulted in contradicting judgments and lobbying in MHA in getting by corrupt persons security clearances.
Both contradicting affidavits of MHA are published below. Subramanian Swamy’s rejoinder to MHA’s dillydallying also published below.
1. Affidavit of MHA filed in Supreme Court favoring SUN TV Group’s security clearance on Feb 21, 2017.
2. Affidavit of MHA filed in Delhi High Court objecting STV’s security clearance on March 29, 2017.
3. Subramanian Swamy’s rejoinder to MHA’s stand in Supreme Court on the issue of security clearances:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
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