Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar today said the centre has lifted the 48-hour ban on two Malayalam news channels, which were suspended over their coverage of the violence in Delhi. He said the government supports the freedom of the press.
The 48-hour ban was imposed on Asianet News and Media One on Friday for reportage that could "enhance communal disharmony" across the country. "Two Kerala channels were banned for 48 hours. We immediately found out what exactly happened and therefore we immediately restored the channels," Mr Javadekar told reporters in Pune.
He said he would look into the matter and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also expressed concern over the entire issue.
Mr Javadekar said the transmission of Asianet News was restored on Friday night after its owner talked to him, and that of Media One on Saturday morning.
"Our basic thought process is that the freedom of press is absolutely essential in the democratic set-up and that is the commitment of the Modi government," he said.
Referring to the Emergency, Mr Javadekar said the freedom of the press was suppressed in those days. "We went to jails against that and we secured the freedom of press," he added.
"I will definitely go into the details and take essential steps if there is any wrongdoing. But let me also tell you that everybody should accept that there has to be responsible freedom," Mr Javadekar said.
He said the views of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have been sought after he spoke with its president Rajat Sharma.
"We have sought their inputs so we will take correct actions. I am very much sure that the media will also exercise responsible freedom," he added.
The channels were suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of last month's violence in Delhi, with the official orders saying that they covered events on February 25 in a manner that "highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community".
"Channel's reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters," the ministry order on Media One had said. "It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS."