The Hindi news channel was supposed to be suspended for a day on Wednesday but the government put the ban on hold as it waits for the Supreme Court response.

Early this week, the ministry for Broadcasting and Information gave New Delhi Television Limitedndtv-logo (NDTV), a Hindi language news channel, a 24 hours suspension this Wednesday. However, the ministry put the ban on hold as the Supreme Court will hear an appeal next month.

The ban was set because the channel covered an attack on Indian soldiers in January, on the Pathanktot airbase. The broadcasting ministry argued that the coverage provided “strategically-sensitive details,” such as information on ammunition and the location of military planes.

NDTV refused the accusation arguing its coverage was actually “particularly balanced” and it had been “singled out since every channel and newspaper had similar coverage”.

The ban caused the immediate response of the Editors’ Guild of India together with the political opposition, which strongly criticized the ban as an infringement of press freedom, and asked the ministry to reverse the decision.

Just yesterday, NDTV aired its show PrimeTime, conducted by Ravish Kumar, using only mime artists as protest against the decision. The presenter conducted a mock interview in which the artists used exaggerated facial expressions and threatening gestures to make the audience reflect on the government’s decision and what it meant for media freedom.

The Broadcasting Minister, Venkaiah Naidu stated that suspending the channel was necessary for security reasons. Naidu also spoke at an event on Sunday, organized by the Telangana Union of Working journalists, saying the government’s commitment to press freedom, but also urging the media to report whilst keeping in mind the interests of both nation and society.

“When broadcasting news, keep in mind interests of society and nation first. The news you are disseminating should not promote clashes between groups, religions or create unrest in society. The news should not cause harm to the nation’s interests. There should be self-restraint,’’ he said.

Naidu then continued his speech addressing journalists and the value of freedom of expression.

“Journalists are also citizens. They should remember freedom of expression is best utilised only when the value of such freedom is fully appreciated. When this freedom is not exercised judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary interventions,” he said. “We are not thinking of any new restrictions on any media. But the government expects all stakeholders to be responsible in using different platforms.

However, after meeting with the NDTV team and the owner, Prannoy Roy, Naidu decided to suspend his decision waiting for consultation and the response from the Supreme Court which NDTV appealed to.

“Till the process is on, the ban will be on hold. The interministerial committee is clear that NDTV has violated due process and compromised national security in their coverage of Pathankot attack,” Naidu said. “But, in sync with the government’s liberal democratic ethos and principles, this decision was taken.”

The congress leader Manish Tewari demanded not simply to put the ban on hold but to withdraw it altogether.

The Press Club of India said the government’s decision was an “uncalled-for-censorship”, especially as “press freedom is already under increasing threat in the country.”