The show-cause notices issued to three private TV channels for their coverage of the Yakub Memon execution have no basis in law and raise disturbing questions about freedom of expression in the country

Information and Broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley. Credit: PTI

The show-cause notice issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on August 7 to three channels threatening “action” against them for having allegedly disrespected the judiciary and the President of India by their coverage of Yakub Memon’s execution has been rightly criticised for the implications it has for freedom of speech and expression in the country.

But the notices sent to Aaj Tak, ABP and NDTV 24×7 also betray a dangerous confusion of thought on the part of the government as to the extent of its own powers to act against private broadcasters.

In its notices, the I&B ministry threatens to cancel the license of these channels for “uplinking and downlinking” for having violated the Programme Code contained in rules framed under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995.