Katju warns UP against violation of jurnos` rights

Press Council Chief Markandey Katju asked the IP administration to ensure freedom of press.

Updated: Feb 17, 2012, 19:49 PM IST

New Delhi: Taking serious note of complaints
from journalists in UP, Press Council Chief Markandey Katju on Friday said government authorities there often act "arbitrarily
and in a vindictive manner" and asked the administration to
ensure freedom of press.

Katju directed the state authorities to comply with the
Model Rules of the Press Council for protection of
journalists` rights and report the action taken.

"Delay in this matter is wholly unacceptable, and those
responsible for it will be held accountable," he wrote in
his letter to top officials in UP government.

Katju said, "Many complaints have been coming from the
state of Uttar Pradesh that press freedom is being violated in
various ways example denying government advertisements or
accreditation of journalists to the newspaper or journalist
which is critical of the government.

"Denial of government advertisements and accreditation
to deserving newspapers or journalists is often done to make
them toe the line of the government. This in my opinion is
wholly unconstitutional."

Katju said that the Press Council of India has framed
Model Rules for protection of journalists` rights. As per
these rules the states should constitute Committees for grant
of government advertisements and accreditation of journalists
but such committees were absent in UP.

"It is deeply regretted that no such Committees have been
functional in UP, and often the government authorities in UP
act arbitrarily and in a vindictive manner," Katju said and
expressed disappointment "that the UP Government has totally
ignored the Model Rules of the Press Council."

In his letter to the UP Chief Secretary and Secretary,
Information and Public Relations, Katju said that Freedom of
Press is a guaranteed fundamental right under the
Constitution of India and it is the duty of the Press Council
of India to uphold this right.

The former Supreme Court judge also quoted a decision of
the US Supreme Court to elaborate his point.

"Only a free and unrestrained Press can effectively
expose deception in Government. And paramount among the
responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any
part of the government from deceiving the people," Katju wrote
quoting a famous judgement by US Supreme Court Judge Justice
Hugo Black.

Claiming that the American court`s observation was fully
applicable in India too, he asked the UP government to comply
with the Press Council`s Model rules.