Court suggests FM auction be postponed

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the government to consider postponing the third stage of the FM auction as it termed “vague” and open to “misuse” the process for granting security clearance to radio channels for participating.

A bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said that central government failed to explain the meaning of security clearance and added that the clause (requiring company and directors of radio company to be security cleared) is vague. “It can be misused,” the court said.

The observations were made by the court during hearing of a plea by Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd. against the ministry of information and broadcasting’s decision to refuse its radio channel, Red FM, permission to participate in the third phase of auctions.

As per the plea of the company, the application of the company was rejected to participate in the auction as they were not given security clearance by the union home ministry on the ground that Kalanithi Maran, a shareholder in the radio channel, was facing prosecution in a money laundering case.

The court observed that rejection of Red FM’s application and refusal of security clearance amounted to “blacklisting” and for that, they had to be given an opportunity to be heard.

It suggested the government consider postponing the auction, currently scheduled for July 27, so that it can hear the matter properly.

The government counsel said that he would inform the court Wednesday on whether the auction schedule can be altered.

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