Delhi HC also quashes govt decision to exclude Sun group from FM radio auction

Close on the heels of an interim order passed by the Madras high court allowing Sun TV group to participate in the latest round of FM radio auctions, the Delhi high court also on Saturday quashed the government's 15 July decision denying security clearance to the group's radio channel Red FM.

A bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also allowed Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM to participate in stage III of the e-auction beginning today.

''We quash the decision communicated by letter dated July 15, 2015, denying security clearance.

''The petitioners (Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd of Delhi and Mumbai) shall be entitled to participate in the e-auction subject to fulfillment of the other conditions,'' the bench said.

The court decided to issue the order at a special sitting on Saturday as the ministry of information and broadcasting declined to defer the auctions.

The ministry had told the court that it cannot delay the auctions even for an hour and that it needs 12 hours to configure the software to be used for the auction process.

The I&B ministry had disallowed Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM in Delhi and Mumbai, from taking part in the auction on the ground that it had not obtained a security clearance from the home ministry, allegedly because of its connections with scam-hit former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran.

The radio channels pointed out that former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran was in no way connected with Digital Radio, while his brother Kalanithi only has an indirect shareholding of 21.6 per cent in the company.

Prosecution of Marans cannot be a reason for denying Red FM security clearance, they had argued.