NEW DELHI :The Supreme Court questioned the Center about why is it unlawful for the community radio and other private radio FM stations to broadcast news asking the Government to consider a permit to air news and current affairs programmes on the basis of information available in public domain on Tuesday.
With a Bench of Justice J S Khehar, Kustice N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud saying it might not be feasible to give free hand to private radio stations to broadcast their own news as it might create "havoc in sensitive areas like Noeth-East and Jammu and Kashmir but they should be permitted to take contents of news from newspapers and TV channels to broadcast them.
This could endanger the "national security and public order"
In response to the bench the government said that granting permission to the banned private FM and community radio stations to broadcast news and current affairs programme's can lead to a risk of "national security and public order" .
"Broadcasting of news by these stations/channels may pose a possible security risk as there is no mechanism to monitor the contents of news bulletin of every such stations. As these stations/channels are run mainly by NGOs or other small organizations and private operators, several anti-national elements with in the country can misuse the information to propagate there agenda, as there is no mechanism to monitor news contents for radio channels," senior advocate Ashok Panda, appearing for Center, told the bench.
There are 281 private FM channels at present operating in 84 cities and the government told the court that it has decided to e-auction 839 more channels in 294 cities. The center has so far granted for 519 community radio , out which 201 are operational.
Jayant bhushan, a senior advocate, appearing for an NGO Common Causes , criticized the idea that government can not control the the flow of information contended that the decision was unconstitutional and violates the the right to freedom of speech and expression and how could center grant license to radio stations if it was not able to monitor them.
"'There is no pre - censorship of news in TV and the government is allowed to cancel license in case of any violation. It is a very good safeguard and the same policy should be made for radio also. Government cannot have monopoly over radio news and it is raising excuses of national security to have monopoly," he said.
The court also questioned the government on why AIR news should be forced on private stations and why they cannot air news contents of newspapers and TV channels as they were already being regulated by Center.
"'There are many newspaper's and channels which publish or broadcast news and they are being regulated by government. Why cannot their news contents, which are in public domain, be allowed to be aired on radio. Why forcing AIR news on them," the bench said.
The bench also asked the the government's' lawyer to take instructions from the Center on the issue.