The government on Friday maintained that a top-level committee decided on the penalty of taking NDTV India off air just for a day instead of 30 days which it had considered because it felt the channel cannot get away with the 'huge indiscretion and violation of rules' in its coverage of the Pathankot terror attack.
Rejecting criticism that the decision on NDTV India amounted to an Emergency-era order, officials said 21 such orders had been issued by the United Progressive Alliance governments since 2005.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee, which looked into the matter has in their comments, mentioned clearly that the threat to national security cannot be justified on any grounds whatsoever, sources said.
'The IMC also noted that this was not the first violation by the channel and that there are previous incidents where the channel had violated the Program code of Cable act,' a source said.
Senior officials in the I&B ministry also said that this is not the first time when an order has been issued to take a channel off air. Since 2005, 28 such orders banning channels from one day to two months have been issued when the channels had been found violating the cable TV rules and programme code guidelines.
'Of these, around 21 orders were issued against different channels during the term of the Congress-led UPA,' an official said.
Sources said the IMC had noted with grave concern that the channel had revealed sensitive detail like location of ammunition depot and place where terrorists were held up, location of school and residential areas which could have been misused by handlers of the intruders.
This could have jeopardised national security and also lives of civilians and defence personnel, they added.
A senior I&B ministry official emphasised that the channel had been given ample opportunity to explain its side as well which was factored in by the high-level panel.
Emphasising that coverage of anti-terror operations is a sensitive issue, officials said several advisories in this regard have been issued to broadcasters.
Officials said after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the I&B ministry had issued an advisory to all news and current affairs channels not to reveal strategically important details.
Subsequently, advisories were issued on different occasions in December 2008, November 2009, February 2010, March 2015, sensitising channels about the sensitivities involved in coverage of anti-terror attacks.
Officials said even on the occasion of anti-terror operations in Gurdaspur, an advisory was issued to broadcasters.