NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Sunday quashed the government’s decision of denying security clearance to the radio channel Red FM as well as rejecting its application for permission to take part in stage three of FM auctions.
A bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also allowed Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM and is associated with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV, to participate in the e-auction scheduled to begin on Monday.
“We quash the decision communicated by letter dated July 15, 2015, denying security clearance. The petitioners (Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd of Delhi and Mumbai) shall be entitled to participate in the e-auction subject to fulfillment of the other conditions,” the bench said at the special sitting. The reasons of the order will be made public later. The special sitting was held as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had expressed its inability to defer the auctions even by an hour.
The ministry had also told the court that they needed 12 hours to configure the software to be used for the auction process. Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM in Delhi and Mumbai, had not been permitted by the government to take part in the auction on the grounds that it had been denied security clearance due to its association with Sun TV. The government had denied security clearance to Digital Radio as Kalanithi and Dayanidhi Maran are being prosecuted in cases of money laundering. The radio channels had argued in court that former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran was in no way connected with Digital Radio, while his brother Kalanithi only has an indirect shareholding of 21.6 per cent in the company.
The court had observed that it did not intend to whittle down the generality of national security and wanted to examine if the provision for security clearance of the company and its directors was actually applicable to the instant case.
Appearing for the channel, advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi stated that the company was inoperation till March 2015 and till then it was not a threat to national security.