NEW DELHI, Oct 2:
Journalists and experts from different fields deliberating on challenges confronting the media “on a daily basis” have called for a central law to protect “truth-seeking journalists” and censure those peddling fake news.
The attendees at the all-India seminar, organised under the banner of the Indian Journalists’ Union, pitched for setting up a media commission, a long-standing demand, saying that though the Press Council of India is “strong constitutionally,” it doesn’t have the authority of a commission.
“The Indian Journalists’ Union organised a national-level seminar to deliberate on the challenges that are confronting the media at all levels on a daily basis and how to bring them within the ambit of the law to protect truth-seeking journalists and censure fake and paid news peddlers,” seminar coordinator and former IJU president S.N. Sinha said in a statement on Sunday.
In the nearly three-hour-long brainstorming session, Mr. Sinha said, IJU representatives from over a dozen states and Union Territories looked at various challenges confronting the media, including print, electronic and social, and deliberated on finding ways to “protect the genuine journalists from harassment, intimidation and violence while looking at their financial welfare”.
“The seminar deliberated on the enactment of a media protection act and the constitution of a media commission,” he added.
Addressing the event, IJU president Srinivas Reddy spoke about the current state of affairs and favoured the demand for the constitution of a media commission.
“The model media commission brought out by (former) Press Council of India chairman P.B. Sawant has been lying with the government without any action (taken on it),” he lamented.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Sinha explained how the IJU has been fighting for press freedom and journalists’ rights since its inception.
“The IJU has now taken up cudgels demanding enactment of a media protection act and the constitution of a media commission to enforce it,” he said.
Supreme Court lawyer Rakesh Khanna and IPS officer-turned-rights activist Amod Kanth backed the IJU’s demand.
Mr. Kanth said the Centre can take cue from Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh governments and even Pakistan, who have enacted laws to protect journalists.
“In fact, the media protection act of Pakistan is very important and should not be rejected just because it is from Pakistan. It gives the right to non-disclosure of source, talks about no enforcement of undue restrictions and also safeguards the reputation and privacy of others..
“It has the powers of a civil court that follows from the colonial IPC section 1908 and can be implemented here too,” he said. (Agencies)