Indian Journalists’ Union calls for law to protect scribes, tackle fake news

Kashmiri journalists while covering a press conference in Srinagar, Kashmir. [FPK Photo / Umar Farooq]

New Delhi: In a recent all-India seminar organized by the Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) in New Delhi, journalists and experts discussed the challenges faced by the media on a daily basis and called for the implementation of a central law to protect truth-seeking journalists and crack down on the dissemination of fake news.

During the all-India seminar organised by the Indian Journalists’ Union, participants strongly advocated for the establishment of a media commission. They emphasized that this has been a longstanding demand. Their rationale for this call was that while the Press Council of India is constitutionally robust, it lacks the authoritative status that a dedicated media commission would provide.

“The Indian Journalists’ Union organised a national-level seminar to deliberate on the challenges that are confronting the media at all levels on a daily basis and how to bring them within the ambit of the law to protect truth-seeking journalists and censure fake and paid news peddlers,” seminar coordinator and former IJU president S N Sinha said in a statement on Sunday, as per PTI.

In the nearly three-hour-long brainstorming session, Sinha said, IJU representatives from over a dozen states and Union Territories looked at various challenges confronting the media, including print, electronic and social, and deliberated on finding ways to “protect the genuine journalists from harassment, intimidation and violence while looking at their financial welfare”.

“The seminar deliberated on the enactment of a media protection act and the constitution of a media commission,” he added.

Addressing the event, IJU president Srinivas Reddy spoke about the current state of affairs and favoured the demand for the constitution of a media commission.

“The model media commission brought out by (former) Press Council of India chairman P B Sawant has been lying with the government without any action (taken on it),” he lamented, as reported by PTI.

During the event, S N Sinha, highlighted the organization’s historical commitment to fighting for press freedom and the rights of journalists. Sinha disclosed that the IJU has now taken a proactive stance in demanding the enactment of a media protection act and the establishment of a media commission to enforce it.

Supreme Court lawyer Rakesh Khanna and former IPS officer turned rights activist Amod Kanth expressed their support for the IJU’s demands.

Kanth pointed out that the Indian government could draw inspiration from the governments of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, as well as Pakistan, all of which have enacted laws designed to protect journalists. Kanth specifically praised Pakistan’s Media Protection Act, emphasizing that it should not be dismissed solely because of its origin, as it includes provisions for source protection, the prevention of undue restrictions, and the safeguarding of reputations and privacy.

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