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SC seeks Centre reply to PCI plea

The Supreme Court Monday sought the Centre’s response to petitions filed by the Press Council of India (PCI) and the Indian Newspaper Society

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2012 3:16:03 am

The Supreme Court Monday sought the Centre’s response to petitions filed by the Press Council of India (PCI) and the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) against an Allahabad High Court order that prohibited the media from reporting movement of troops.

The High Court on April 10 ordered the Centre and the UP government “to ensure that there is no reporting/release of any news item by the print and electronic media on the movement of troops”. The order came on a PIL,filed by social activist Nutan Thakur,relating to an April 4,2012 report in The Indian Express — “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked” — about movement of some troops towards Delhi.

Subsequently,the Information & Broadcasting Ministry issued an advisory to all “private satellite TV channels” to “strictly follow” the court’s order. The PCI,however,challenged the order on the ground that it violated the media’s as well as citizens’ fundamental right to the freedom of speech and expression.

The petition said though the impugned report did not endanger national security,the High Court order curbed journalistic liberty and hampered the independence of journalism,the fourth pillar of the democracy.

In its petition,INS claimed the order amounted to a “blanket censorship” on reporting of troop movements. “Public interests as well as media rights are vitally affected for which there is no justification,” it said.

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