Supreme Court of Nepal: private radio stations broadcasting news and media criticism of the royal family will prohibited

A group of Nepalese professionals on Sunday challenged in the Supreme Court a new law banning private radio stations from broadcasting news and prohibiting media criticism of the royal family.

Attorneys, journalists, doctors, engineers and teachers filed a joint petition demanding the removal of the law introduced two weeks ago by King Gyanendra.

"The ordinance, the major objective of which is to discourage media, is completely against the words and spirit of the constitution," the petition said.

The decision on the petition by the Supreme Court the country's highest will be binding. It was not clear when that ruling would take place.

Since seizing absolute power on Feb. 1, the king has cracked down on criticism of his government and security forces. His government has also banned all independent reporting on a communist insurgency that has left 12,000 people dead since 1996.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Information warned major FM operators it will take stern action if they fail to abide by the new law, said Prabhat Rimal, station manager at Kantipur FM in the capital Katmandu.

On Friday police raided Kantipur Radio, a major private radio station broadcasting from Katmandu, accusing it of violating the new law. They seized some key broadcasting equipment.

The government has threatened to revoke the licenses of private radio stations, said Shambhu Thapa, chairman of the Nepal Bar Association, reported AP.

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