New Delhi: BJP on Monday backed the news
channels in the row over a Cabinet decision that gives the
Information and Broadcasting Ministry the right not to renew
their licenses, calling the Government move an "invasion" of
freedom of the press.
"This is a plain and simple invasion of the right of
freedom of the press. Any citizen of India has the right to
start a newspaper, start a news channel provided he has the
financial muscle to do so," Leader of Opposition in Rajya
Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters.
The Union Cabinet had taken a decision giving the
I and B Ministry the right not to renew the license of any
news channel which violates the set rules five or more times.
"The only restriction on the right can be what is
provided in the Constitution like public order, national
sovereignty, relations with other countries and so on,"
Jaitley said. He insisted that government could only regulate
the channels but cannot unreasonably withold licenses.
He maintained that the new provision gives the
government to first declare a channel guilty and then take
away its right to telecast and disemminate news.
"This is clearly unconstitutional. An invasion of the
freedom of expression and freedom of media. The object of this
is that somehow hard steps must be taken so that the media can
be disciplined to fall in line because the government seems to
be hugely troubled by the independence of the media today,"
BJP has decided to oppose this provision and said the
government should drop this idea.