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Press Council of India to send fact-finding team to Kashmir

The 28-member council, at its Thursday meeting, decided to send its own team of four members to assess the situation.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 26, 2019, 09.46 AM IST
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Agencies
Kashmir
The PCI is seeking permission to intervene and allow it to assist the SC in deciding on a petition, filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, that seeks relaxation in restrictions.
Press Council of India chairman CK Prasad’s move seeking intervention in a writ petition that challenged restrictions in J&K has led to a difference of opinion, with some members calling it a “decision made by Prasad without consulting others”. The 28-member council, at its Thursday meeting, decided to send its own team of four members to assess the situation.

The PCI is seeking permission to intervene and allow it to assist the SC in deciding on a petition, filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, that seeks relaxation in restrictions. The chairman, in his plea, had said “reasonable restrictions” on free speech are acceptable when news, comments or information are likely to endanger state interests. But some other members feel that the council’s views should have been considered before making such a plea.

“First of all, it is not the considered view of the Council. The views of all members should have been taken. At least, a discussion should have taken place,” Jaishankar Gupta, a member, said. Gupta said the plea moved by the chairman fails to mention the difficulties being encountered by journalists in filing stories.

“The Press Council has not received any complaint about any wrong coverage by any media house. So, there was absolutely no need for intervention,” he said.

Prasad told ET that he received many complaints about the curbs on the media in J&K and that his action was “guided by the mandate of the body to protect freedom of the press”.

“Maintaining the freedom of the press is primarily the duty of the council and, guided by this mandate, the application was filed. The council’s stand before the SC will be based on the report of the sub-committee entrusted to examine this issue and the opinion of the council,” he added.

Bar Council of India chief MK Mishra, a former PCI member, said the chairman was “well within his rights to seek intervention”. Another PCI member Baldev Gupta said the council will take a view after the team visits J&K and comes back.
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