Withdraw laws that curb press freedom: Media bodies

The government must ensure that the right to know of people is not trampled upon, the journalists' bodies said.


Published Jun 15, 2024 | 12:49 PM Updated Jun 15, 2024 | 12:49 PM

press freedom

Journalists’ associations have urged the government to withdraw laws that are aimed at curbing press freedom and replace the Press Council of India with a body that includes broadcast and digital media.

At a meeting held on 28 May, attended by representatives of 15 press bodies, they also demanded that the government restore the Working Journalist and Other Newspaper Employees (Condition Of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955, and the Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958, as well as include broadcast and digital media journalists in the laws’ ambit.

“The sweeping provisions under laws such as the proposed Broadcast Services (Regulation)

Bill, 2023, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, the Press and Registration of Periodicals Act, 2023, and more importantly, the Information Technology Amendment Rules, 2023, which grant authority to the government to remove any online content pertaining to its business that it deems to be false or misleading, are meant to silence the press,” the journalists’ associations said in a joint statement.

In the meeting, which was attended by representatives of press bodies such as the Press Club of India, the Press Association, the Digipub News India Foundation and the Indian Women Press Corps, also noted that there were apprehensions of control and regulation and may place unreasonable restrictions on the citizens’ right to know.

The government must ensure that the right to know of people is not trampled upon, the journalists’ bodies said.

They also said the government will have to ensure that the proposed future laws should not impede press freedom, while upholding the right to privacy of citizens.

“The exiting laws and future legislations should not be leveraged to block or takedown legitimate news content across platforms viz. print, television and internet,” the journalists’ bodies said in the statement.

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