The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the Press Information Bureau (PIB) to ensure that media personnel, who are to be issued the Press Identity Cards, undergo “police verification” annually.
The move, sources said, is a direct fallout of the Petroleum Ministry’s “documents leak” case in which several classified government documents were allegedly leaked by ministry staffers in Shastri Bhavan to several corporates. Role of some media personnel is also being probed in the case.
Currently, media personnel — accredited by PIB — have to go undergo police verification at the time their accreditation card is made for the first time. While the card is valid for one year, it is renewed for subsequent years without a police verification.
A PIB accreditation card allows media personnel unhindered access to most of major government buildings in the national capital. Since many of these buildings house sensitive ministries and departments, where access is security-controlled, a PIB card acts as a major facilitator for the media in the discharge of their duties.
The MHA’s move is likely to affect as many as 2,500 Press Identity Card-holders.
In a communication to PIB, the MHA said “as per the agreed procedure for endorsing of MHA validation on Press Identity Cards issued to media personnel for enabling their entry into the government buildings under MHA security cover, the agreed procedure is that PIB would seek prior approval of CSO, MHA for making these endorsements. These endorsements are also to be made after police verification of the concerned media personnel on yearly basis.”
The MHA stated that “it has been observed that this procedure has not been followed before making endorsements” of the Chief Security Officer of the MHA on Press Identity Cards in 2015. It added that before PIB makes endorsements of MHA’s Chief Security Officer on the Press Identity Cards it may obtain prior approval of CSO, MHA. “Also, such request for approval is to be accompanied by police verification reports of individual media personnel,” the letter stated.