The government has decided to put on hold the one-day ban on Hindi news channel NDTV India, a week after announcing to take it off air for allegedly compromising national security with its coverage of a terrorist attack on an air force base.
Even as the media group eked out the concession from the government, it also moved the Supreme Court challenging the gag order. The top court is expected to hear the case on Tuesday.
The government’s announcement came after NDTV’s co-founder and executive co-chairperson Prannoy Roy met information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday.
NDTV India was asked to go off the air on November 9 after the government said the channel revealed sensitive details during its coverage of a militant attack on the Pathankot airbase in January.
This crucial information could have been readily picked up by the militants’ handlers and jeopardised national security, the information and broadcasting ministry said.
This was the first time a channel was asked to stop broadcasting over concerns about national security.
Top media bodies on Monday expressed solidarity with NDTV and condemned the Centre’s move, saying it sends a “dangerous signal” to the entire press, the freedom of which is already under “increasing threat” in the country.
But the government has defended the action, saying many other channels were banned in the past and that free speech couldn’t be absolute or override national security.