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Delhi HC to pass order on Red FM case on Sunday

Private FM radio channels

New Delhi: Delhi High Court will hold a special sitting tomorrow to decide whether Red FM, associated with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV, can participate in the stage three of FM eauction on Monday after considering whether issue of national security is applicable in this case.

The court made it clear that it does not intend to “whittle down” the generality of national security.

“We do not want to whittle down generality of national security… We want to examine whether that clause (of the company and its directors’ requiring security clearance) is actually applicable in this case or not,”a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva said while reserving its verdict on Red FM’s plea.

Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM in Delhi and Mumbai, has not been permitted by the government to take part in the auction on the ground that it has been denied security clearance due to its association with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV.

The government has denied security clearance to Digital Radio as Kalanithi and Dayanidhi Maran are being prosecuted in cases of money laundering.

The court decided to deliver the order tomorrow and give reasons later as the auction was scheduled for 9.30 am on July 27 and the officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) said the same cannot be deferred.

The ministry told the court that the software used for the eauction has to be configured 12 hours before it commences, hence, the bench decided to pass the order at 11.30 am tomorrow (Sunday).

It will be a special sitting since the court observes a holiday on Sunday.

The court, during arguments, asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta whether the government has examined what would be the outcome of denying security clearance to a company, as it would amount to “blacklisting” it or making it a “pariah”, as no one would want to do business with such an entity.

“If someone is branded a threat to national security or economic integrity of the country, I would not do business with it,” Justice Ahmed remarked and added “it would have serious ramifications”.

The ASG, assisted by advocate Sanjiv Narula, in response said “we are not declaring him (Red FM) a traitor” and just because the government’s decision causes a stigma, it cannot be said to be unreasonable.

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