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Delhi HC asks Centre to consider Marathi news channel Lokshahi's plea against suspension

By Shreya Agarwal      19 January, 2024 06:47 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today asked the Central government to consider an affidavit submitted by Lokshahi news channel stating that it has rectified all the defects pointed out by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry).Court has asked the Centre to take a decision on the channel's suspension by January 25.

Even as Lokshahi protested against its suspension, Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the Court expects the Union of India to consider in earnest the affidavit filed by Lokshahi.

The matter is now scheduled to be heard on January 25.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had told the channel owners to take corrective steps, after Lokshahi Marathi approached it seeking relief against a 30-day broadcast ban on it.

The I&B Ministry had suspended its licence after it was discovered that the operators of the channel are not the same as the license-holders.  

Telling the owners to show that the activities of the channel are under their control, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora had told the owners to take corrective steps.

The I&B Ministry had sent the suspension order to the channel at 6 pm on January 9 and soon took it off air, Lokshahi's counsel told the Court, adding that the order was passed “without any reason."

In an urgent mentioning before the Delhi High Court, the channel had said that the broadcasting ban had come as a 'shock' and urged that the BJP-led central government ministry was taking 'targeted action' against the channel.

The Ministry, on the other hand, had served a show cause notice to the channel, alleging "blatant and continuous" violations of policy guidelines.

The I&B Ministry pointed out that while the channel owned by one Zora Traders, had been granted permission to operate the Lokshahi Marathi news channel, it was only allowed to generate its own content for news and current affairs.  

However, it had been sourcing its content from a third party, Swaraj Marathi Broadcasting LLP, without prior approval by the Ministry.

The Ministry said that this was a violation of its “essential condition of permission”.

Notably, the channel had also found itself on the wrong side of the I&B Ministry in September last year after it aired a “sexually explicit” video allegedly featuring BJP leader Kirit Somaiya. The viral video had triggered a political storm in Maharashtra, and subsequent police action.

A 72-hour ban was imposed on the channel following the Somaiya controversy.



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