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SC Upholds Cancellation of Licenses of Cable TV Service Providers

Team SoOLEGAL 11 Jan 2019 3:30pm

SC Upholds Cancellation of Licenses of Cable TV Service Providers

The Supreme Court recently upheld revocation of licenses granted to Digi Cable Network and SCOD 18 Networking, for operating as Multi System Operators (MSOs) in the Digital Addressable System (DAS) notified areas.

The observations made by the bench was that these companies were not entitled to claim any prior notice before passing of the cancellation order. The appeals were Dismissed by the apex court by the two judges bench stating: “We are of the view that the principles of natural justice were not infringed in the light of the law laid down in the case of Ex-Armymen's Protection Services Private Limited (supra), where the appellant was not entitled to claim any prior notice before cancellation of permission.”

Judges: Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra stated that obtaining security clearance is an obligatory requirement as per Cable Television Network Rules which was amended. Licenses, issued to these cable TV service providers, were revoked by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on the ground that the Ministry of Home Affairs denied issuance of "security clearance" to them.

The companies there in after approached the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed their pleas.

Earlier than the apex court, “The reasons to deny security clearance to the companies was submitted by the Union of India.” After the referral the court observed that the order of revocation was passed in absolute conformity with the requirements of Rule 11C of the Rules, as these companies had failed to obtain the mandatory security clearance. "It is clear from mere reading of the Rule 11C (1) that grant of permission is subject to issue of security clearance from the Central Government to the applicant. The contention raised was that these companies were not afforded any opportunity of hearing before revoking the permission. In the said judgment, observations were that in a situation of national security, a party cannot insist for strict observance of the principles of natural justice.

Further observed: "It is the duty of the court to read into and provide for statutory exclusion, if not expressly provided in the rules governing the field. Depending on the facts of the said case, it will subsequently be open to the apex court to satisfy itself whether there were justifiable facts. Thus, for in that regard, the court is entitled to call for the files and see whether the case is of its interest of national security. Once clear that the issue involves national security, the court shall not disclose the reasons to the affected party." 

Tagged: cable TVs   cancellation   supra   SC   appeal   digi cable network  
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