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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]

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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]