Press Council to challenge HC order in SC: Katju

Last Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 20:30

New Delhi: Terming as “not correct" the
Allahabad High Court order which prohibited all media reports
related to troop movements, Press Council of India (PCI)
chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Thursday said that the Council
would soon challenge it in the Supreme Court.

"The Press Council of India will be challenging the
order of the Allahabad High Court in the Supreme Court of
India very shortly," the PCI chief, who is a former Supreme
Court judge, said in a statement.

Katju said that "with great respect to the High Court, I
am of the opinion that the order of the High Court is not
correct."

He said that the Indian Army was not a colonial army, but
the army of the Indian people who pay the taxes for the entire
defence budget. Hence, the people of India have a right to
know about Army affairs, except where they compromise national
security.

Katju noted that the media has done an excellent job in
exposing the Adarsh and Sukna scams in which senior army
officers were involved and they were well within their
fundamental right of freedom of the media under Article
19(1)(A) of the Constitution to do so.

The court had directed Secretaries in the Home Affairs
and I & B ministries along with Principal Secretary (Home) of
the UP Government to ensure that there is no reporting or
release of any news item related to movement of troops.

He said that reporing troop movement near the Indian
border or during war time should be prohibited as that may aid
the enemy and cause harm to the armed forces by compromising
national security. "However, in my opinion there can be no
general prohibition of reporting of all troop movements," he
said.

Katju referred to the reporting of alleged troop movement
by the Indian Express in its report published on April 4.

"I am of the opinion that without going into the question
whether the news reporting was factually correct or not, there
could not have been a valid prohibition of such reporting,
because the troop movement was not at the Indian border or
during war time," he said.

The allegation in the Indian Express report was that
there was some convention written or unwritten, that troop
movements towards Delhi should not take place without
notifying and getting consent of the government which was not
done, he said.

"The further allegation was that this caused panic among
the civil authorities, and the troop movement was abruptly
stopped," he added.

The PCI chief said that The Indian Express is not a fly
by night newspaper, but a responsible one.

"They (Express) took 11 weeks to complete the
investigation of the reported troop investigation before
deciding to publish the report. Hence I do not see how they
can be faulted," he further added.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 20:30

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