New Delhi: Ministry for Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has written a letter to MHA seeking clarification on what all constitutes ‘economic security’ as the Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) had cited ‘economic security’ as the prime reason for denying security clearance to 33 TV channels of the Sun Group.
The MIB is also seeking legal opinion if economic violations constitute threat to the security of the country and if there is a precedent of using the grounds of economic security to deny broadcasting licenses. “Security is not clearly defined, so we would want to know what exactly it constitutes. And more so in this case ( Sun TV security clearance issue ), how does economic offences of a company affect the economic security of the nation,” a Source from MIB said.
Meanwhile, the union home ministry “clarified” on Tuesday to MIB that the reasons for denying security clearance could be communicated to Sun TV in a show-cause notice. In a letter dated 4th June denying clearance, MHA had requested MIB not to disclose the reasons for denial to the applicant company.
On Tuesday, Union minister Arun Jaitley, who heads both finance and I&B, had a meeting with top MIB officials to give directions on how to take the issue forward. MIB wants a clear definition of security from MHA in this context. “They could either state the reasons or say the denial was as per guidelines. MIB should not be faulted on anything in the court,” an MIB Source said.
The MHA official said that economic security “is a very important component of overall national security” and hence has been invoked in the Sun TV matter. “In simple terms, economic security issues involve bad money being invested in legitimate businesses with long-term adverse economic consequences for the country,” he said, stressing that threats to the country’s overall national security do not come only from terrorists.
The MHA has used the economic security angle to clamp down on NGOs like Greenpeace India and Ford Foundation lately. In an April 10 order suspending the FCRA licence of Greenpeace India, the MHA alleged financial irregularities committed by the NGO “prejudicially affected the public interest and the economic interest of the state”.
On 23rd April, the MHA cracked down on Ford Foundation, saying in an order that it wanted to ensure that the funds sent by the International NGO were utilised for “bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security”. The MHA sources insist that economic security issues impinge on crony capitalism, destroying the level playing field.