Eight journalist bodies on Saturday expressed grave concern over decisions taken by Justice C K Prasad, Chairman of Press Council of India, regarding constitution of the 13th Press Council, saying that his actions cast doubts over the council’s autonomy.
In a joint statement issued Saturday, All India Newspaper Editors Conference, Indian Journalists Union, Indian Newspaper Society (INS), Working News Cameramen Association, Hindi Samachar Patra Sammelan, National Union of Journalists (India), All India Small and Medium Newspapers Federation and Press Association expressed “grave concern over the procedure followed” by Prasad. The statement said Prasad “overlooked precedence and adopted a process to keep out certain media associations and candidates”. His actions, it said, have “cast serious doubts over the autonomy and neutrality” of the PCI, which, it said, “is mandated to preserve and protect the freedom of the press”.
The organisations also said Prasad has called a PCI meeting with only eight members whose names have been notified, including five parliamentarians, and one representative each of Bar Council of India, University Grants Commission and Sahitya Akademi. The remaining 20 names are yet to be notified and “reconstitution is still underway”, the statement said.
Delhi High Court granted a stay against the nomination process on Tuesday after Indian Newspaper Society approached it. The statement said the journalist bodies “demanded that the proposed meeting of the truncated Press Council must not be held and must be deferred till the full council is reconstituted”. The eight groups demanded the intervention of the government “to restore the credibility and sanctity of the Press Council of India”. It said the intervention “will go a long way in demonstrating the will of the government to protect and preserve the freedom of the Press, vital to any democracy”.
A meeting of journalists, editors and media proprietors was held at INS Saturday “to discuss the grave situation arising out of the premeditated actions” of Prasad in the council’s reconstitution.