Press Council Of India’s Supreme Court Move Leads To Disquiet Within Ranks, Media Bodies Slam Action
The Press Council of India's move to intervene in a case in the Supreme Court over the curbs on communication in Jammu & Kashmir has prompted some members of the watchdog to raise strong objections and evoked a sharp response from media bodies.
A group of members have raised questions over the PCI's move, saying that they were not taken into confidence before or after the action by the media watchdog's chairman and retired Supreme Court Justice CK Prasad.
Media bodies such as the Indian Women's Press Corps and the Press Association described the PCI's move to approach the Supreme Court as a "unilateral action".
The IWPC, in a statement, said it condemns the "unilateral action" of the PCI chairman, Justice Prasad, in seeking intervention on behalf of the PCI in a writ petition filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin in the Supreme Court.
Justice Prasad did not confide or even discuss with other members of the PCI before taking this far reaching step, it said.
"The main issue is that this is not PCI's considered view to move the application. Before moving the application, PCI was not taken into confidence. Chairman says it was matter of urgency that it why it was done. But the problem is that there was a meeting on Aug. 22, but it was brought up there," Press Council member Jaishankar Gupta told PTI.
"Even before the move to approach SC, there was a meeting and the petition was not even placed on agenda. Even if you could not do it earlier, you should have taken an endorsement later. Officially the copy of the application was circulated on Monday," he said.
On Tuesday, there will be a joint meeting of media bodies such as IWPC, Press Association and Press Club of India to discuss the media scenario in Kashmir and PCI's intervention is the Supreme Court is also likely to come up.
C K Nayak, another PCI member, said the decision was taken about 15 days ago and there was a Council meeting on Aug. 22.
"Ideally, the Chairman should have consulted the Council members. In urgent matters, the chairman can take a decision. But, he should have informed the Council later. That is our objection," he told PTI.
At the Aug. 22 meeting of PCI, a fact-finding committee comprising four members was set up that will visit J&K to assess the situation there, he said.
PCI chairman Prasad said the intervention in the Supreme Court was made "in the larger interest of the press".
The chairman has the power to take a decision in an emergency and then it can place the matter before the Council, he told PTI, adding that matter will be placed before the Council at an "appropriate time".
Asked if it would be done after the fact-finding committee submits its report, he answered in the affirmative.