Malawi: Joy Radio successful in judical review

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Muluzi: Owns Joy Radio
The High Court in Blantyre, Malawi on Friday January 16, declared that the decision of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) decision to revoke Joy Radio's license was unconstitutional, ultra vires, and unreasonabl


According to one of the lawyers for Joy Radio, Jonathan Kara, the ruling on the judicial review means that now there is no case between Joy Radio and Macra.

Giving his ruling, Justice Anacklet Chipeta said Macra behaved most disgracefully with a lot of irregularities.

I accordingly hold that the decision-making process that led to the revocation of radio License herein was flawed through and through with irregularities, said the judge in the ruling.

In finding existence of a breach before any had occurred, in dealing with the supposed breach without regard to the correct procedure as openly displayed in the law, and in choosing at will to freely jump from one part of the Act to another just to pick and choose what penalty to impose, I find that Macra behaved most disgracefully, and that it not only acted ultra vires the powers the law has vested it with, but also without fairness in the sense depicted by the principles of natural justice, said Chipeta in his eight paged ruling.

On the argument by Macra that Joy radio did not comply with orders from the regulatory body on the submissions of broadcasting material, Justice Chipeta said it was all due to unreasonableness on Macra.

The ability on its part to find the applicant guilty of non-compliance…it is the one that owed the said applicant an answer before next pressing for compliance…both amount to unreasonableness on Macra’s.

In the judicial review, Joy radio applied for a declaration that the decision of Macra revoking the license was unconstitutional, unreasonable, not in line with Communications Act and the terms of conditions of license granted to Joy Radio by Macra.
 
As a result I grant to the applicant both the declarations it prayed for, concluded Chipeta.

It is not clear whether Macra will appeal against the ruling or not as their lawyers were not available for comment.

Joy radio was granted a license by Macra to conduct broadcasting services on April 1 2002.On March 25, 2007 the radio was attacked by unidentified persons for broadcasting live meeting addressed by the former president Dr Bakili Muluzi.

On July 13, 2007 the High Court nullified composition of Macra board after a successful application by joy radio that the board was illegal and flouted provisions of the communications act.

In a related development on October 29, 2007 Macra uprooted transmission equipment of what would have been a second television station on the claims that the station did not have appropriate license to allow ownership of both radio and TV.

On October 17, 2008 joy radio stopped broadcasting, after Macra revoked its license saying the station had violated provisions of the communications act by transferring its ownership to politicians, claims Joy radio described as baseless.

However, the radio resumed broadcasting on October 19, 2008 after obtaining an injunction restarting Macra from revoking its license.

But on 20 November, 2008 the High court lifted the injunction and MACRA closed the station following the development.

On 22 December 2008 during Judicial review Macra unexpectedly withdrew one of the three grounds that led to the closure of Joy radio.

The ground claimed that former president Dr Bakili Muluzi who is a politician owned Joy Radio. – Nyasa Times

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