New Delhi: The Press Council of India Chairperson Justice Markandey Katju on Wednesday wrote to the Chhattisgarh government to ensure that journalists and newspapers are not harassed in the state.
In his letter addressed to the state Chief secretary and
Home Secretary, Katju said he had received a number of
complaints after which he was writing the letter.
"I have received a large number of complaints/
representations from Rajasthan Patrika Group of Newspapers
about harassment to the media persons by the authorities of
the State Government of Chhattisgarh," he said.
An important Daily of the state `Patrika` had complained
to Katju about alleged harassment by the Government which they
claimed was unhappy over the paper`s news coverage.
It is the duty of the Press Council of India to ensure
the freedom of the press vide Section 13 of the Press Council
Act, 1978, and the Press has a fundamental right of free
speech under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, Katju said
in the letter.
"Obviously, the press cannot be free if journalists are
harassed. If the allegations in these complaints are correct
it is a serious matter," he said and asked the state
government to send its reply to him preferably within two
weeks of the receipt of the letter.
Katju wrote that he had also sent a similar letter to the
Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir when he
heard of harassment to journalists in their states.
"I said in my letter that a journalist is only doing his
duty, like a lawyer arguing a case," Katju wrote.
The newspaper `Patrika` had in its complaints to Katju
alleged that the Chhattisgarh Government was angry over its
"true and fair" reporting.
Several FIRs are said to be lodged against the office
bearers of `Patrika` under various Sections of the IPC, some
of which were filed in the remote areas in Bastar, the
newspaper had complained.
The newspaper had claimed that its news coverage which
was accurate had hurt people at the helm of affairs in the
state government following which it was being harassed.