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Friday, July 20, 2018

Party distances itself from Rahul aide’s Bill to regulate media

Mandsaur MP Meenakshi Natarajan is a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 28, 2012 11:55:06 pm

Mandsaur MP Meenakshi Natarajan,a close aide of Rahul Gandhi,looked isolated in the Congress over her move to seek a law to regulate the media and setting up an authority that can “suo motu” probe complaints against the media.

While Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni sought to play it down saying that Natarajan’s views are “not necessarily the government’s or the party’s thinking”,a host of Congress MPs dismissed her suggestions for regulating the media. They did not see any need to put any curbs on the media saying that in a vibrant democracy like India,an independent media has played a key role in exposing corruption and drawing attention to the problems faced by common man. “

“MPs are well within their rights to move bills as per their thinking but it is not necessarily the government’s or the party’s thinking. It may reflect her views or impression on how it (media) should be moving forward but I haven’t read the Bill. I know that there is Cable Regulatory Act and Press Council Code for journalists,” Soni told The Sunday Express”

“An individual member can move any bill. As long as there is no government bill,there should be no hue and cry. It is an individual’s idea. Not much should be read into it,” said Union Minister Rajiv Shukla. Asked about the Mandsaur MP’s Bill,Congress spokesman and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari said,“There is an animated debate,which is taking place across institutions and societies with regard to the golden mean of freedom of thought and expression. However,the guarantees enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution are intrinsic to liberal and pluralistic democratic ethos.”

Madhu Goud Yaskhi,MP from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh,said,“We need to see it in totality. By and large,in our country and across the globe,especially in democracies,media has played a key role in unearthing scams,drawing attention to issues of governance and to the problems of the people. Any government regulator or authority will only be authoritative and abusive (in exercising the powers). Media should be independent and have self-regulation. If there are media excesses,there are enough laws in the country to control them. I don’t think there is any necessity of any law to regulate the media.”

“There should be a debate on self-regulation. There should be a code of conduct formulated by media groups only and it should be followed in letter and spirit. Although Press Council of India is an autonomous body,the chairman is appointed by the government. Press Council does have some sort of control,” said North Mumbai MP Sanjay Nirupam.

Congress MP from Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh Harsh Vardhan said,“In a democracy,there should be no attempt to curb the media. It does not need any law or authority to regulate it.”

Natarajan had given notice in the Lok Sabha on Friday to introduce a Private Member’s Bill titled Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill,2012. It seeks “to provide for the constitution of the Print and Electronic Media Regulation Authority with a view to lay down standards to be followed by the print and electronic media and to establish credible and expedient mechanism for investigating suo motu or into complaints by individuals against print and electronic media,and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. The Bill was,however,not moved as Natarajan,an AICC Secretary attached with Rahul Gandhi,absented herself from the House when it was to be introduced. She can give a fresh notice to introduce the Bill.

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