Katju suggests panel of SAARC press councils

The committee could work on the maintenance of press freedom and press responsibilities and improving relations between these countries.

New Delhi: Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has proposed a joint panel of press councils from all SAARC countries which can work on related issues and also on improving relations.

Officials said on April 9 that he had sent a letter to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry proposing creation of the SAARC Press Council joint panel which was forwarded to the Prime Minister`s Office.

The idea for the formation of the joint committee was floated by Pakistani Press Council Chairman Raja Muhammad Shafqat Khan Abbasi, who wrote about it in an e-mail to Katju.
In his letter to I&B ministry, Katju wrote that the formation of such a committee was a "very good idea and India should give leadership in this committee."

Apart from working on the maintenance of press freedom and press responsibilities, the committee could also work for improving the relations between these countries, he said.

"I have written a letter and also spoken to I&B minister Ambika Soni on phone. She said it was a very good idea and decided to forward it to the Prime Minister`s office with recommendations," Katju told a news agency.
"We can initially form a panel with the SAARC countries as members but it can later be expanded to include more South Asian countries."

He said he has sought clearance from the government after which SAARC can be approached.
In his letter, he also suggested that the proposed panel can be set up as a "multi-faceted process enhancing socio- economic and ideological development in the region on a sustained basis".