Republic TV channel blackout: No restraint orders against Cable Network Operators

Mumbai: Observing that the Shiv Cable Sena is not a statutory authority, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to issue any directives to the Cable Network Operators (CNO) not to blackout Republic TV channel. The HC said that the news channel has an option to move the law enforcing agencies against the "intimidating" letters issued by Shiv Sena's cable branch.

A bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav also said that the Cable Sena's communication asking the CNO to blackout Republic TV channel has no effect in law.

The bench was dealing with the channel's plea challenging the letters written by Cable Sena to CNO asking them not to air the news channels as its anchor Arnab Goswami has been broadcasting biased news and deliberately attempting to defame Sena chief and state CM Uddhav Thackeray.

The channel argued that the HC bench must issue a writ order asking CNO not to act as per Cable Sena's directive.

The Maharashtra government through advocate Jyoti Chavan opposed the plea on technical grounds as Cable Sena is a private body. She told the bench that the channel should file a private civil suit against the Cable Sena.

Having heard the contentions, Justice Jamdar said, "The Shiv Cable Sena is not a statutory authority to either supersede the license granted to the channel or to interfere in the contractual/statutory relationship between it and the CNO. The communication issued by Cable Sena, therefore, has no effect in law."

"If the CNO breaches the contractual/statutory relationship with the channel, it has the remedy of approaching the appropriate authority," the bench added.

The judges further refused to pass a restraint order against CNO as sought by Republic TV on the ground that the CNO may stop airing its news channels pursuant to the communication by Cable Sena.

"It is not brought to our notice that any CNO has ceased to air the two TV channels as of now. Even if they do cease to air the concerned channels, it is not possible for us to presume that it is only because of the communication issued by the Cable Sena, or for any other reason," Justice Jamdar said.

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