Journalist’s Disorderly Conduct Causes Irreparable Damage To Journalism, High Time That Govt. Reviews List Of Accreditations: HP High Court

first_imgNews UpdatesJournalist’s Disorderly Conduct Causes Irreparable Damage To Journalism, High Time That Govt. Reviews List Of Accreditations: HP High Court Sparsh Upadhyay15 April 2021 8:48 AMShare This – xBecause of mushroom growth of journalist and the cut-throat competition amongst the journalists themselves, their standards are declining leading to the decline of the institution of Journalism: HP HCIn a significant observation, the Himachal Pradesh High Court last week opined that because of mushroom growth of journalist and the cut-throat competition amongst the journalists themselves, their standards are declining leading to the decline of the institution of Journalism. The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan was hearing the plea of an Editor of the Hindi Weekly namely…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginIn a significant observation, the Himachal Pradesh High Court last week opined that because of mushroom growth of journalist and the cut-throat competition amongst the journalists themselves, their standards are declining leading to the decline of the institution of Journalism. The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan was hearing the plea of an Editor of the Hindi Weekly namely ‘Him Ujala’ who submitted before the Court that despite working as a Journalist for more than 13 years and winning many awards, his accreditation had been canceled only on the ground that there are certain FIRs pending against him. Submissions made before the Court Assailing the impugned action on the part of the State of Himachal Pradesh in stopping publication of the tenders and classified ads of the government and further not renewing the accreditation of the petitioner, the Petitioner submitted that it was a direct attack on the freedom of the press. He also alleged that his newsweekly was being financially crippled as the publication of the government tenders, notices, and classified ads was a major source of income of the petitioner and further, the HP State was depriving the petitioner of the facilities which were usually available to the correspondents and journalists of the State. It was also averred that the freedom of the press was one of the pillars of Democracy and it was imperative to ensure that there was no attack on the freedom of the press and, therefore, also the action of the respondents-State was illegal. Importantly, it was averred that the petitioner had been targeted because he had been publishing news items regarding corruption and irregularities committed by the political leaders, who had amassed huge wealth. State’s submission The state submitted before the Court that the Petitioner was placed before the Press Accreditation Committee, the final authority as per Rule 4 of H.P. Press Correspondents Accreditation and Recognition Rules, 2002 (for short ‘the Rules’). Importantly, it was submitted that on 15th July 2014, the Committee, after scrutiny of the record, decided to keep him under suspension the accreditation of the petitioner till the final outcome of the criminal cases pending against him in various Courts. It was also stated before the Court several FIRs had been registered against the petitioner on various charges. Court’s observations At the outset, the Court observed that in the instant case, the accreditation of the petitioner had simply been suspended till the final outcome of the criminal case in exercise of sub-rule (2) of 14. Further, referring to the case of Surya Prakash Khatri vs. Smt. Madhu Trehan, 1992 (2001) DLT 665, wherein the Supreme Court had observed that the power of the Press is almost like nuclear power – it can create and it can destroy, the Court opined, “The media has often been called the handmaiden of justice, the watchdog of society and the judiciary, the dispenser of justice and the catalyst for social reforms. Hence, it is the utmost responsibility of all the media houses, news channels, journalists, and press to ensure that their conduct is above-board and they discharge their duties in a responsible manner.” Further, the Court stressed that the Press in India, had played pivotal role at various challenging and testing times, however, the Court also added that as is common with any other institution, certain disturbing tendencies have crept into this institution also. “It is imperative that people with absolute integrity and dedication for the cause hold reins of the chariot of journalism and in case their own conduct is under scanner, then the same reins are to be withdrawn till so long the journalist is not cleared of all the charges”, observed the Court. The Court also observed that disorderly conduct by a journalist besides causing irreparable damage to the institution would also cause huge irreparable loss to the journalism. The Court also stressed that the institution of journalism was crumbling and because of mushroom growth of journalist and because of the cut-throat competition amongst the journalists themselves, their standards are declining leading to the decline of the institution of journalism itself. Other important observations of the High Court High time that the State Government review and revise the list of accreditations so as to ensure that only genuine and credible correspondents etc. are accorded accreditation.It has to be ensured that accreditation is granted at the state level based on the publication’s circulation in Himachal Pradesh and not merely on the basis of the appointment letter of the Editor of the concerned paper.The Rules need to be suitably amended by clearly setting out therein the time frame which the accreditation has been granted or refused and provisions have to be made for citing of the reasons in case of the rejection of the request for accreditation.it is noticed that many of the Journalists, who have own houses/flats and some have constructed the flats over the subsidized land and are still retaining the Government accommodation and such tendency needs to be curbed forthwith and such possession is required to be handed over to the Government immediately. In the given facts and circumstances of the case, while dismissing the petition, this Court deemed it imperative to pass the following directions: State of Himachal Pradesh is directed to review and revise the accreditation granted to different categories strictly in accordance with the Rules of 2016 as amended from time to time and thereafter grant fresh accreditation strictly in accordance with these rules.Amendment be carried out in Rules 2016 making a time-bound provision for granting/ refusing accreditation and in case of rejection a provision be made making it mandatory for recording reasons for such rejection. It must be ensured that only one journalist from one publication/newspaper be granted accreditation (State or District level) in accordance with the rules. Case title – Vijay Gupta v. State of Himachal Pradesh [CWP No. 7487 of 2014]Click Here To Download Order/JudgmentRead Order/Judgment hereSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img