In a relief for Red FM, the Delhi High Court today quashed the government’s July 15 decision denying security clearance to the radio channel as well as rejecting its application for permission to take part in stage three of FM auctions.
A Bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also allowed Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM and is associated with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV, to participate in the e-auction scheduled to begin on Monday.
“We quash the decision communicated by letter dated July 15, 2015, denying security clearance.
“The petitioners (Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd of Delhi and Mumbai) shall be entitled to participate in the e-auction subject to fulfilment of the other conditions,” the Bench said. The court issued the order in a special sitting held today, with reasons to come later, as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) had expressed its inability to defer the auctions even by an hour.
The Ministry had also told the court that they need 12 hours to configure the software to be used for the auction process.
Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM in Delhi and Mumbai, was not permitted by the government to take part in the auction on the grounds that it had been denied security clearance due to its association with Sun TV.
The government had denied security clearance to Digital Radio as Kalanithi and Dayanidhi Maran are being prosecuted in cases of money laundering.
The radio channels had argued in court that former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran was in no way connected with Digital Radio, while his brother Kalanithi only has an indirect shareholding of 21.6 per cent in the company.
Prosecution of Marans cannot be a reason for denying Red FM security clearance, they had argued.
Nisha Narayanan, COO of Red FM, said, “We are one of country’s largest networks of FM stations and hopefully post the final outcome of these auctions we shall retain our leadership status.”