Govt to consider editors'' plea on defamation law

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) Information and BroadcastingMinister Ambika Soni today assured leading editors that thegovernment would consider amendment to the Indian Penal Codewhich at present provides for criminal defamation and imposingof jail sentences on journalists.

Soni told the Executive Committee of the Editor''sGuild, which met her, that she would pass on the guild''ssuggestions to Law Minster Veerappa Moily.

The Law Minister had given an assurance that asolution would be found for decriminalising defamationprovision.

The editors asked Soni for abolition of the existingcriminal defamation law, which they said was being outdated, asource of harassment to journalists and a cause ofdisproportionate penalties on journalists.

They argued that the civil defamation law wassufficient. It was pointed out to the Minister that manycountries including Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and theUnited States have decriminalised defamation laws.

The Guild also raised questions about the proposedchanges to the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. Italso demanded a review of the changes, approved recentlyby the Cabinet, to the Act.

In a statement, the guild said that it believes thatthe purpose should be to make the changes more liberal andless intrusive.

A proposed amendment contemplated at present by thegovernment suggests that failure to file the requiredinformation or filing of a false declaration could lead tosuspension of a publication or the closure of the printingpress for 30 days.

Among the editors who met Soni were Guild President TN Ninan (Business Standard), Sanjoy Narayan (Hindustan Times),Rajdeep Sardesai (CNN-IBN), M K Razdan (PTI) and Mrinal Pandey(Prasar Bharti).

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