IJU stunned at Madras high court judgement
Hyderabad, August 30, 2021: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) expressed dismay at an order by the Madras High Court in which a Division bench made sweeping comments on journalists and their associations/unions and issued imprudent directions to the State Government. In a statement issued on Monday IJU President K. Sreenivas Reddy and Secretary General Balwinder Singh Jammu said, one can understand the anxiety of the hon’ble judges to curb the menace of fake news and fake journalists but the prescribed cure shouldn’t kill the patient.
The order gives the public a scary impression that the country is teeming with card wielding fake journalists and that many journalist unions are also fake and they pose biggest threat to press freedom and free speech. The Bench issued an order to the State Government to constitute Press Council of Tamilnadu giving it sweeping powers to regulate the whole gamut of journalists/unions and their identity and activities. The IJU leaders said Press Council of India was constituted on the recommendations of the first Press Commission and accreditation rules also came into being as a result of that. The main function of the Council is to regulate print media and electronic and digital media are yet to be brought under its ambit.
All other activities of journalists including their forming of unions/associations and press clubs are governed by various laws of the land like Trade Union Act and Societies Act. Like any walk of life in the society the profession of journalism also has its black sheep. But they are neither out of proportion nor unmendable to defy the existing statutes, the IJU leaders said.
Stating that the bench went to the extent of prescribing minimum circulation to news papers and magazines, the IJU leaders said the order instead of buttressing the right to free speech, in effect, curbs the freedom of expression and the freedom of association. They urged the Government of Tamilnadu to immediately seek remedial measures to nullify the ill conceived order of the Madras High Court and added that journalists and unions in Tamilnadu should also take initiative in this regard.