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NDTV India ban: SC to hear appeal on 5 Dec; govt may restructure review panel

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MUMBAI: It is not going to be easy to gag the freedom of press. NDTV India's appeal against the one-day ban on its Hindi channel will be heard next month by the Supreme Court.

NDTV has challenged the ban for violating the constitutional right to free speech and expression.

Appearing for NDTV, Fali Nariman, one of India's most reputed lawyers, said that, because the government has suspended the ban, there was no urgent need for the court to stay the government's order that called for a 24-hour ban and that the case could be heard a month later, during which NDTV expects the government to take a final decision.

The government on November 7 put on hold its order asking NDTV India not to telecast for 24 hours starting 9 November for allegedly flouting norms.

The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing to December 5 as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told Justice A.K. Sikri that there was no real urgency as their plea (by NDTV) for review of the decision was being considered by the government.

The ban was put on hold by the government after representatives of NDTV met with Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu. NDTV reiterated that its Hindi channel did not broadcast sensitive details of the terror attack on the Pathankot air base.

The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry said it was weighing restructuring the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) which reviews cases of violations in the broadcast media. The ministry was facing criticism for directing NDTV India to go off air for a day.

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