New Delhi: Two weeks after the Press Information Bureau of India (PIB) issued the Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022, the Publishers Guild of India (EGI) expressed concern and demanded a withdrawal while urging GDP to undertake “meaningful consultation” with all stakeholders if it intends to revise them.
The newly released guidelines, issued on February 8, set out the rules for journalists’ accreditation for access and reporting from the seat of the Indian government.
In a statement on Sunday, EGI described the provisions listed in the guidelines as “arbitrary” and “without any due process.” “Accreditation may be revoked if a journalist is charged with a recognizably serious offense or if a journalist acts in a manner detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India…”, the statement quotes excerpts from the guidelines .
According to the EGI, these guidelines were introduced without any prior consultation with journalists’ bodies or media organisations.
Read the full EGI statement here:
The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned about the new Central Media Accreditation Guidelines issued by the Press Information Bureau of India, which set out the rules for accrediting journalists to access and report from the seat of the Indian government.
The guidelines contain various new provisions under which a journalist’s accreditation can be revoked, many of which are arbitrary and without due process of law. For example, accreditation can be revoked if a journalist is “charged with a serious recognizable offence” or if a journalist “acts in a manner that undermines the sovereignty and integrity of the India, to state security, to friendly relations with foreign countries”. public order, morality or good morals or in matters of contempt of court, defamation or incitement to commit an offence”.
It is strange that the mere fact of being charged was mentioned as a ground for cancellation. The other grounds for cancellation are obviously vague and subjective, especially since no procedure is provided for and no mention is made of the jurisdictional authority that will decide on the suspension. Worse still, worried journalists were not given the opportunity to be heard. Most surprisingly, “defamation” was included as a ground for cancellation.
A new clause requiring a police check was added without defining the contours of such a check. Since no standards have been prescribed, it can grant unlimited powers to the police to deny accreditation to journalists who may be seen as critical of the government.
It is clear that these vague, arbitrary and draconian clauses were included in order to restrict critical and investigative reporting on government affairs. There are also other restrictive provisions. In the case of freelance journalists, the requirements for the number of signatures have been made unreasonably high. The Guild wrote a detailed letter to the GDP explaining all these issues.
Furthermore, these guidelines have been introduced without any prior consultation with journalist bodies, media organizations or any other relevant stakeholders.
The Guild therefore demands the withdrawal of these guidelines and urges the GDP to undertake meaningful consultation with all stakeholders if it intends to revise them.
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