news Friday, June 19, 2015 - 05:30
  Two weeks back media reports emerged that the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied security clearance to 33 TV channels of the Maran-owned Sun TV Network as there were three cases against the Maran brothers. In response to this, the group chairman Kalanithi Maran had shot off letters to the Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and other senior bureaucrats in the ministries. But the MHA seemed firm in its decision and also reportedly refused to respond to Maran’s letters. But in a bolt from the blue, the Attorney General of India Mukul Rohtagi today gave a legal opinion to the MIB stating that the denial of security clearance to Sun TV was an incorrect step. This was in response to a legal response sought by the MIB from the AG. However, and in what seems to be a contradiction, the MHA and MIB had moved the Madras High Court appealing against the stay order on the cancellation of the security clearance to the Maran-family-owned Kal Cables, which had also been denied the clearance earlier. Kal Cables had later got a stay order from the Madras High Court on the matter, which is being challenged now. So here is the sequence of events: MHA denied clearance for Kal Cables, which was later stayed by the court. MHA then denies clearance for Sun TV network. MHA and MIB appealed against the Kal Cables order, acting against the Marans. And now, the AG has given a legal opinion to MIB favouring the Marans in Sun TV case. Why is this regulatory ping-pong being played by two arms of the government? Is the Modi government divided between Rajnath and Jaitley over this issue? BJP leader Subramanian Swamy sure seems to be hinting at that. Shocking that after Home Minister declines security clearance to Sun TV the AG gives a contrary opinion to I&B !!! Time for me to go to SC — Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) June 19, 2015 Though the Attorney General’s opinion is not binding, the government is obliged to take it seriously. So will the MHA lead by Rajnath Singh stick to its stand or will Arun Jaitley’s I&B let Sun TV off the hook  In fact, reports of a tussle between the two ministries had started emerging even before the matter was referred to the AG. It was reported that MHA officials stayed away from the consultation process with the MIB over this issue. Industry insiders have told The News Minute that MIB officials are wary of cancelling Sun TV’s licenses as this could open up the can of worms over cases against several other channels and business groups. However, on the face of a legal opinion from the AG, it is expected that the MHA might take a step back and give a security clearance. Legal experts say that thought the Attorney General's opinion is not binding on the government, it is usually accepted.
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