The Press Council of India (PCI) has moved an application in the Supreme Court seeking permission to intervene and allow it to assist the top court in deciding on a petition filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor that seeks relaxation in curbs on the movement of media personnel, including photojournalists, in Kashmir.
Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin’s plea seeks relaxation in media movement and free reporting amid the security curbs and communication shut down in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
In her plea, Bhasin has asked the SC to ensure that an enabling environment is created for all journalists and media personnel in the state to practice their profession.
“The rights of the journalists/media for free and fair reporting are on the one hand and national interest of integrity and sovereignty on the other. Hence the applicant is of opinion that it should present its views before this court and assist the court in deciding the instant writ petition justly in the interest of the freedom of the press as well as in the national interest,” read the application.
The PCI also cited norms of journalistic conduct Clause 23, which prescribes self-regulation in reporting by journalists in matters of sensitive national, social or individual interests.
Under Clause 23, newspapers should, as a matter of self-regulation, exercise due restraint and caution in presenting any news, comment or information which is likely to jeopardise, endanger or harm the paramount interests of the State and society, or the rights of individuals with respect to which reasonable restrictions may be imposed by law on the right to freedom of speech and expression under clause (2) of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Clause 23 further states that the publication of a wrong or incorrect map is a very serious offence as it adversely affects the territorial integrity of the country and warrants prompt and prominent retraction with regrets.
The Press Council, in its plea, said the watchdog body was established for the purpose of preserving freedom of the press, maintaining and improving the standards of newspaper and news agencies in the country.
The Bar Council of India supported the PCI application. “The media today is expected to act in a manner which strengthens the country. The entire world is witnessing the biased role played by the media of Pakistan and some other nations,” said BCI chief Manan Kumar Mishra.
Mishra said every citizen of the country was duty-bound to protect its integrity and the media was no exception. “The Constitution has provided full freedom under Article 19, but it is subject to reasonable restrictions,” he added.