CHENNAI: Under fire from all around, the Marans-owned Sun Group received a much-needed reprieve on Thursday morning, with the Madras High Court permitting it to participate in the phase-III auction for FM radio broadcasting license.
However, passing the order here today, Justice M Sathyanarayanan made clear that this is only an interim order, and the final outcome will be subject to the decision taken on the six petitions moved by Sun TV Network, KAL Radio, South Asia FM and its share holders.
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Sun Group, which operates about 45 FM stations across the country, found itself out of the list of applicants eligible to participate in the phase-III auctions issued on July 15, triggering a major controversy. Reports from the national capital cited difference of opinion between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and I and B minister Arun Jaitley over this, but the home ministry is seemingly unrelenting over the matter. On July 16, the Sun group was served with a communication stating that the company was rejected on national security ground.
The rejection prompted Sun Group to approach the High Court seeking relief, relying on the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act and the licence terms and conditions.
“Only a company controlled by a person convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude or money laundering or drug trafficking, terrorist activities or declared as insolvent will not be eligible to apply,” contended the petitioners before the court, referring to clauses 2.2(b) of the Information Memorandum and clause 3.2(b) of the notice inviting application.
“The company is not involved in any dispute with regard to the security of the nation, and it had not broadcast anything that affects the security if the nation,” they claimed.
But the Centre maintained that the corruption cases that the group owners Kalanithi and Dayanidhi Maran faced were of a serious nature.