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Press council: For media freedom, with national interest in mind

PCI said that it would file a ‘structured view’ on curbs on the media in J&K after its subcommittee visits the erstwhile state.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 18, 2019, 08.02 AM IST
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The affidavit in the Supreme Court followed Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin’s request for judicial intervention to lift curbs on the media in J&K.
NEW DELHI: The Press Council of India “stands for freedom of the press, keeping in mind the interest of the nation”, a resolution passed at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday said. The resolution comes weeks after PCI chairman CK Prasad was criticised for filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

PCI said that it would file a ‘structured view’ on curbs on the media in J&K after its subcommittee visits the erstwhile state. However, it is not clear when committee members will visit J&K. Three members that ET spoke with said the issue had “been put in cold storage”. Prasad, however, told ET that he was willing to send a sub-committee right away if someone was willing to go to J&K: “Some people are saying that I am preventing them from going. Are there people to facilitate their work in J&K now? Can they go on their own? If they are ready, I can send them this week itself.”

The affidavit in the Supreme Court followed Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin’s request for judicial intervention to lift curbs on the media in J&K. Prasad’s affidavit said PCI would like to assist the Supreme Court in deciding Bhasin’s petition “in the interest of the freedom of the press as well as in national interest”. Media bodies criticised this and 11 PCI members demanded an emergency meeting to convince the chairman to withdraw the affidavit.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Prasad admitted that the affidavit was not based on consensus but asked members for “statements in it which were anti-media”. “Some members felt adding ‘national interest’ would water down PCI’s pro-media freedom stance, but others said exaggerated reports could be published and Pakistan could use them to belittle India’s image internationally. Hence, a compromise was reached,” a PCI member said.

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