A group of journalists will hold a protest march on Thursday from the Press Club in Delhi to the Parliament building to protest restrictions on access to Parliament during the Winter Session, The Telegraph reported.
The Centre had restricted the entry of mediapersons in Parliament early in 2020 since the outbreak of Covid-19. Journalists cannot access media galleries in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Central Hall.
For two days in a week, reporters are permitted to be on the Parliament premises, but they have no access to the proceedings.
On November 27, a group of journalists wrote an open letter to the leaders of all political parties in Parliament, protesting the restrictions on the media’s access to Parliament. The letter said that there was no need for such curbs now, adding that public places such as malls, restaurants and cinema halls had been reopened.
The letter said that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, in a press conference in July, had stated that no restrictions would be imposed on the media’s entry.
“We are concerned that there is a depressing trend emerging to isolate Parliament and parliamentarians from media gaze,” the letter said, adding that trend augurs ill of parliamentary democracy.
Umakant Lakhera, the president of the Press Club of India and one of the signatories of the letter, told The Telegraph that the restrictions smack of a design to keep the media away from Parliament.
“We can understand the restrictions for some time, when the Covid menace was disturbing everything,” Lakhera said. “But now you can see people jostling in marketplaces and public transport. Malls are open. But the entry of the media [into Parliament] is severely restricted.”
Lakhera said that journalists cannot view proceedings and cannot meet members of Parliament.
On Tuesday, the Press Club of India also objected to what it described as a “lottery system” of allowing journalists to enter the premises of Parliament.
“This seems to be a ploy to censor transmission of news and the information to people,” it said. “This is a very dangerous trend in a parliamentary democracy like India.”
The Opposition has also criticised the central government’s decision to not lift the restrictions on media access to the Parliament.
Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker on November 28, demanding that journalists should be allowed access to the press galleries in Parliament. He said that the current restrictions are against the spirit of parliamentary democracy.
“I am concerned that there is a dangerous trend emerging to isolate the Parliament and the parliamentarians from media scrutiny,” Chowdhury said.