Katju warns UP against violation of jurnos' rights



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.

PTI