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The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Tuesday directed the union information and broadcasting ministry not to use its October 21 order against news channels that said the prime minister should not be compared to any other political leader.
A bench of Chief Justice Dhananjay Yashwant Chandrachud and Justice Rituraj Awasthi said the advisory whereby electronic news channels were told that their licences will be cancelled in case they compare the prime minister to any other political leader should be used only for compliance of rules and regulations and not beyond.
In a public-interest litigation (PIL), social activist Nutan Thakur had sought the quashing of the advisory.
The petition said the ministry issued the advisory threatening penal provision in Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, because many news channels compared Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi over their Independence Day speeches.
The ministry had found the comparison "indecent" and "bad in taste".
Calling the advisory merely a dictatorial step to curb the independence of the media, Thakur had prayed for its immediate quashing in larger public interest.