Will send fact finding teams to some states: Katju

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Markandey Katju
New Delhi, Feb 3: Concerned over large number of complaints related to violation of freedom of the press from some of the states, Press Council Chairperson Justice Markandey Katju today said that he would send fact finding teams to ascertain the ground situation there.

“Since I feel that this freedom is under threat in many states I intend to send Fact Finding Teams to some of the states from where we are getting a large number of such complaints,” Katju said.

“I have sought the opinion of the Members of the Press Council in this connection,” he said in a statement released in New Delhi.

He listed physical assaults on journalists or media establishments by various government agencies and organisations, withholding advertisements of news papers which were critical of the government and other methods like threats being employed to silence media.

“I have already issued strong letters to the Chief Ministers of J&K, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh in this connection,” he wrote.

Katju said that he had also sent a letter to the Chief Minister of West Bengal objecting to the new rules regarding accreditation of journalists, some of which are likely to adversely effect the freedom of the press.

Katju said that the Freedom of Speech and Expression was a guaranteed right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.

“Under Section 13(1) of the Press Council Act, 1978, it is the duty of the Press Council to preserve the freedom of the Press,” Katju said.

“I have been receiving reports from several quarters in several states that the freedom of the Press is in various ways being imperilled,” Katju said.

In the statement, Katju said that violation of the constitutional right to freedom of the press will not be tolerated by the Press Council.

“A serious view and strong action will be taken by the Press Council whenever and wherever this right is infringed,” Katju said in the statement.

Copies of the statement were also marked to The Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries, Secretaries of Information Departments of all states and Union Territories.

Katju’s statement was also marked to the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and the Secretary of I&B Ministry Uday Kumar Varma in addition to Members of Press Council.

PTI

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