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Media One ban: Sealed covers foster bias, argues senior advocate Dushyant Dave

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The Apex Court on Tuesday continued to hear the petition against the Kerala High Court’s order which upheld the telecast ban imposed on the Malayalam news channel Media One by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which has till date not renewed the licensee of the channel causing loss to the channel.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave who had appearing for the channel has said that sealed files submitted by the Ministry before the Court are quite objectionable as it gives feeling of prejudice under purported protection of national security to the opposite party in the case.

The lawyer reminded the principle that great Justice begins by giving access of material to  both parties so that they have access to material on which the case is built. He also pointed out a great psychological effect that sealed cover creates on the mind of judge as they come up with a heading stating National Security, which influences the mind of the authority.

Advocate Dave also said that this is not first of its cases it is getting repeated several times. He added that as a matter of fact the citizens must know whether sealed cover affidavits can be given by the parties to the court behind the back of the other party.

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Citing the example of the CJI designate Justice DY Chandrachud , the lawyer said that the previous week a sealed cover report was handed over by AFT in a matter pertaining  to permanent commission. He questioned that why should a sealed cover be given in a service matter?

The Senior lawyer has also asked and cited examples of foreign jurisdictions, which also disapprove of the sealed cover reports. Citing the example of the case of Nixon,

where the Apex Court of America had come very badly on the sealed envelope, he asked for it to be considered

The current case was related to the telecast ban imposed by the Union Government on Malayalam news channel MediaOne.

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In March ,the Court put a stay on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting order  which barred to extend the license for the channel under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act. The Court had passed the interim order in a SLP  filed by the company claiming for the judgement of Kerala High Court’s judgment which upheld the decision of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to not renew license of the channel.

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