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Press Council Of India Demands: ‘Enact strict law against attacks on journalists’

It has also been recommended that the state government pay Rs 10 lakh in case a journalist is killed and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injuries.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 10, 2015 4:07:28 am

In the wake of increasing attacks on mediapersons, a sub-committee on safety of journalists set up by Press Council of India (PCI) has recommended enactment of a law that would make any attack on a journalist a cognizable offence with “stiff and deterrent punishment”.

The sub-committee, whose recommendations have been adopted by the PCI, has further recommended that all cases of attacks on journalists, fatal or otherwise, shall be referred to Special Courts which may conduct day to day hearings and the trial may be completed within a year of filing of charge sheet.

Set up in 2011, the sub-committee visited 11 states and interacted with top government officials and representatives of journalists’ associations. Its report states that 80 journalists were killed in India between 1990 and 2015.

“Almost all the cases were still pending in courts or police are yet to file charge sheets. Only in the 2013 Shakti Mills rape and murder case, the culprits were given exemplary punishment by the Court within a year. That might be because the case was tried under the stringent anti-rape law in a fast track court,” the sub-committee report says.

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Another key recommendation states that all such cases of attacks should be investigated by a special task force under a the supervision of the PCI or a court and investigation be completed within a month.

“Whenever a journalist is murdered, the case should be automatically referred to the CBI or another national-level investigative agency, and the probe may be completed within three months,” it has said.

It has also been recommended that the state government pay Rs 10 lakh in case a journalist is killed and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injuries. “All medical expenses…may be paid by the state government concerned,” the sub-committee has said, adding that management of the news organisation should treat the leave of absence of the injured journalist as on duty with full pay and allowances.

The sub-committee has said the PCI should direct all states to constitute high-powered committees with representation of journalists’ organisations to monitor investigation into all cases of attacks on journalists or cases filed against them.

It has also been recommended that PCI may direct army and paramilitary commanders to appoint a nodal officer at state headquarters in states where they are operating against militants so that there is better co-ordination between the media and the forces.

PCI Chairman Justice (Retd) Chandramauli Kumar Prasad also said that the PCI had decided to take up matters related to attack on journalists.

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