Chennai : Sun TV moved the Madras high court Yesterday against the Centre’s decision denying it permission to participate in phase-III of FM auctions. Sun TV’s Red FM sought a stay on phase-III of FM auction that is to be conducted shortly.
On 15th July, five companies of Sun TV were not allowed to participate in phase III FM auctions, as the information and broadcasting ministry had refused to give security clearance.
The company, in its petition, said the impugned order is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory, abuse of process of law and violates the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, unconstitutional, infringes upon fundamental rights.
Sun TV said the reasons cited for denial of permission were three cases which were either in FIR stage or only at the stage of charge sheet. The company is not an accused in any of these cases. Only a director of the company is allegedly involved in the first two cases.
“……the petitioner is not an accused in the said case but one of its Director Kalanithi Maran is an accused. The pendency of the said case cannot be a ground for rejection of the security clearance since, there has been no final conviction. Indeed, it is the case of this petitioner that even if conviction were to result, the same cannot be a ground for security clearance rejection for purposes of owning and operating an FM radio station,” said in the petition.
The company also said the security clearance was not a statutory requirement, as the licence for operating an FM radio station is granted under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, which is silent on any such requirement. None of the rules framed under Section 7 of the Act likewise prescribe any such requirement.
“… thus the impugned order is ultra vires the Act and rules, as these seek to impose an arbitrary condition not contemplated by the statute,” the petition added. Sun TV said the FM station is not permitted to broadcast any of its own news content but can only transmit music and other entertainment programmes. The company also requested the court to direct the ministry to allow it to participate in the forthcoming FM station phase-III auction. Sun TV also sought an interim injunction restraining the ministry from interfering in any manner with the company’s broadcasting of FM radio in Chennai, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli under the brand name Suryan FM till the disposal of the main writ petition.
Sun TV and its group companies collectively own and operate 45 stations across the country.