HC allows Sun Group to take part in FM auction

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Chennai | Published: July 24, 2015 12:36:50 AM

The Sun Group and its firms had sought a stay on a July 15 order of the information and broadcasting ministry refusing permission

In a relief to Sun TV Network, the Madras High Court on Thursday issued an interim order allowing the Kalanithi Maran-owned media company to participate in the coming Phase 3 of the FM radio auction.

Passing the orders on a bunch of petitions filed by Sun TV Network, justice M Sathyanarayanan said the results of the auction should be kept in a sealed cover till further orders. The judge also said the decision would be subject to the result of the main writ petition filed by the group seeking a direction to quash the order passed by the Union information and broadcasting ministry. The ministry had disallowed the group from taking part in the auction process on the basis of the absence of security clearance from the Union home ministry.

The Madras High Court order comes close on the heels of a Delhi High Court order on Wednesday, which permitted the Sun Group to participate in the mock FM auction.

The Madras High Court had on Tuesday reserved its order on an interim plea by the Sun Group seeking a direction to the Centre to allow it to participate in the auction process. Making the interim prayer in a batch of six petitions, the Sun Group and its companies had sought a stay on the July 15 order of the information and broadcasting ministry refusing the permission.

P S Raman, appearing for the petitioner, had said the group had been denied security clearance on the ground it faced the Aircel-Maxis case linked to the 2G spectrum allocation case, money laundering charges and alleged illegal telephone exchange case — in which former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother and Sun Group owner Kalanithi Maran are accused.

He questioned how, when chargesheeted persons were allowed to enjoy the post of ministers, could the persons facing mere FIRs be disallowed from running FM radio stations. He contended that the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 nowhere mentions about security clearance.

Raman had further said there were contradictions in the statements of the Union government that the Marans caused a loss of R443 crore to the exchequer by establishing a mini-telephone exchange, using it illegally for Sun TV, whereas the FIR filed in this connection says that the loss was only Rs 1.17 crore.

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