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In a press statement released on 26th September, the Editors Guild of India led by President Seema Mustafa, General Secretary Sanjay Kapoor and Treasurer Anant Nath, has expressed pain and anguish over hundreds of FIRs being filed against journalists of Republic TV. The said channel is being probed for allegedly manipulating TRPs and spreading discontent against the Mumbai Police.

Victimization of Journalists is Wrong

The Guild has emphasized that it does not wish to influence the probe by the authorities but the victimization of the journalists must stop.  Even if they recognize that the probe has potential to bring in much needed transparency on the issue of TRP manipulation and proceeds of crime, even then victimisation of journalists is not warranted.

Limits of Investigative Journalism being crossed

The Guild also expressed displeasure over Republic’s high-strung conduct covering the unfortunate demise of Sushant Singh Rajput, especially the harangue directed at actor Rhea Chakraborty. They said that the pertinent questions asked by the Bombay High Court to the channel, such as “Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?” must be addressed by all media.  Also, they noted that the Court wondered whether the media was encroaching upon the domain of the police. Similar reservations about Republic’s conduct has been expressed even by the News Broadcaster’s association (NBA) that disagrees with it’s reporting.

Both Media and Police Should Act Responsibly

The police should ensure that media rights are not suppressed by arrest of journalists and the channel should ensure that collective credibility of media should not be affected and the safety of journalists are not compromised by such reporting. Right to free speech does not mean a licence to promote hate speech. It is important to maintain balance between media freedom and the imperative for it to reside within the rule of law.

Ed. Note: Bombay High Court has been wrongly identified as Mumbai High Court in the statement


*Associate Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Hot Off The PressNews

The Editors Guild of India notes with dismay and concern the vindictive manner in which governments, including their agencies, acted against media organisations.

On October 15, Prasar Bharati, the Union government’s public broadcasting agency, cancelled its subscription of news services from the Press Trust of India (PTI), the country’s largest news service provider. This followed Prasar Bharati’s decision to invite fresh proposals for a digital subscription to English text and related multimedia services from all domestic news agencies. The PTI is also allowed to submit its proposals once they are invited as are other news service providers like the UNI, whose arrangement too has been cancelled.

A few months ago, a senior official of Prasar Bharati had criticised the PTI for what he believed was its “anti-national coverage” of news pertaining to India-China ties.

On the same day in the Keonjhar district of Odisha, the state police picked up a senior journalist, Ramesh Rath, employed with a regional news channel, OTV, on charges of having circulated an obscene video last year. OTV has stated that the journalist has been targeted for having done a series of reports exposing the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha, although the state police has denied the allegations, saying that no arrest has yet been made.

The Guild believes that such actions threaten as well as undermine the independent functioning of the media organisations. These should be withdrawn forthwith.


Editors Guild of India

Press Statement dt. 16-10-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Press Council of India (PCI) has taken Suo Motu cognizance of the alleged attack by a mob on three journalists, including a female reporter from Caravan magazine who were reportedly beaten, and threatened in North East Delhi on 11.08.2020 while they were covering news.

A Report has been called for from the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi.


Press Council of India

[Press Release dt. 25-08-2020]

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Taking note of provisions regarding “Fake News” mentioned in the Media Policy 2020 whereby Government of Jammu and Kashmir authorises its officers to decide the content of print, electronic and other forms of media for “fake news” and proceed against journalists and media organisations, the Press Council of India has moved suo motu as the matter affects the functioning of the press.

Comments in the stated matter have been called from the Chief Secretary the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and Secretary, Information Department, Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

PRESS RELEASE


Press Council of India

Press Release dt. 16-06-2020

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Editors Guild of India is concerned by growing tendency among police in various states to take cognisance of frivolous charges against journalists and convert them into an FIR

The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned by the growing tendency among police in various states to take cognisance of frivolous charges against journalists and convert them into a First Information Report (FIR).

The latest instance is of the Delhi Police’s FIR against veteran journalist Vinod Dua, based on a complaint by Naveen Kumar, who has been identified as a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The accusations are a brazen attack on his right to free speech and fair comment. An FIR based on this is an instrument of harassment setting off a process that is itself a punishment.

The Guild unequivocally condemns this practice and urges the police to respect Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms rather than behave in a manner that raises questions on its independence.


Editors Guild of India

[Statement dt. 08-06-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Editors Guild of India issues statement condemning the acts of violence and brutality committed by by police forces, in particular those in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, against media persons in dfferent parts of the country in last one week.

Guild reminds the police forces across the country that journalists are present at different venues, where protests are taking place, as part of their Constitutionality guranteed duties of gathering information and disseminating it among the people through tehir respective media platforms. Using force or physical volence against journalists on duty throttles the very voice of democracy and media freedom.

The Guild urges the Union Home Ministry to direct police forces in different states to offer adequate protection to journalists engaged in coverage of the ongoing protests. Instead of targeting them forphysical attack, the need of the hour is to ensure proper and reponsible coverage, a goal that cannot be achieved by by such acts of violence and brutality against journalists on duty.


Editors Guild of India

[Press Statement dt. 23-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: In an interesting case, M.G. Giratkar, J., maintained conviction of a journalist for the offence of extorting money from the complainant — an old man, around 72 years of age.

Sonba Bhaisare (complainant) sold certain land after getting it converted from agricultural to non-agricultural. It was alleged that the accused, a journalist by profession, met Sonba Bhaisare time and again and threatened him to publish reports against as the subject land was a bhoodan land and therefore the conversion was illegal. He also threatened to file a PIL and further threatened to make complaint to the Collector and get the houses built on the subject land demolished it. It was further alleged that the accused demanded Rs 50,000 to refrain from his activities which was agreed to by Sonba after initial reluctance. However, Sonba made a complaint to the Police who laid a trap and caught the accused taking an installment of Rs 10,000 from Sonba in a temple as agreed between them. Consequently, the accused was convicted under Sections 384 and 385 IPC by the trial court which was upheld by the first appellate court. Aggrieved thereby, the accused filed the present revision petition.

Noting all the facts of the case, the High Court was of the view that the trial court’s judgment needs to be upheld. Reflecting on the conduct of the accused, the Court stated, “intention of the accused is very clear to extract the money from the complainant and others. He was threatening them. Not only threatening but also filed PIL. Therefore, activities of the accused clearly show that he is a person who might have earned money by such tactics from various persons.” Observing that “all the illustrations to Section 384 show that even a threatening by journalists who are reporters to publish news in a newspaper to defame a person amounts to extortion”, the Court went to hold that the prosecution was able to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt and hence his conviction was maintained.

Lastly, regarding leniency in sentencing, the Court observed, “This type of crimes are increasing day by day, by threatening the officers or innocent persons. They are extracting money in the name of journalists. The accused has misused his position and threatened the complainant and purchasers, therefore, he is not entitled to any kind of leniency”. [Sharad Balkrushna Deotale v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 305, dated 21-02-2019]