Indian Press Club of India , Indian Women’s Press Corps and Press Association have issued a strongly worded statement against central Government’s moves to muzzle the media .
The statement says-
” We, the undersigned journalist organisations express deep concern at the statements made by the Hon’ble Attorney General of India insinuating that reports on the Rafale deal published in The Hindu newspaper were based on documents stolen from the Ministry of Defence. The Attorney General’s statements made in open court suggesting that the publication of such reports and the documents imperiled national security and therefore should be deemed as criminal, has the potential of sending out a chilling effect to one and all in the media. The implications and ramifications of the statements made by the top most legal officer of the government are not only for the media but also for the sources of information that journalists rely on.”
The journalist bodies have shown concern towards “These statements in addition to submissions made by the government in court that the Official Secrets Act had been violated contradict the very idea of a free press in an open democracy like ours.”
The senior journalist bodies asserted that ” The Fourth Estate is bound by its dual responsibility of reporting what is in public interest as well as raising questions, irrespective of the government in power, which is part of its moral responsibility.” The journalists have expressed that this is deeply unfortunate that it is the discharge of this responsibility that is being sought to be stymied by top ranking officials of the government.
The journalist bodies of the country have also added that it may be about time that the Official Secrets Act as well as law on Defamation need to be re-examined given the potential of their misuse against the Fourth Estate.