The Editors Guild of India on Friday condemned the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s decision to take Hindi news channel, NDTV India, off air for a day for revealing “strategically-sensitive” information while covering the Pathankot attack in January. The Guild's office-bearers said the decision was a direct violation of the freedom of media and that it reminded people of the Emergency.
According to ministry’s order, the channel will be off the air from 1 pm on November 9 to 1 pm on November 10. The ministry panel had said the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they aired the details in real time.
Here is the full statement from the Editors Guild of India:
The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded.
The ostensible reason for the order as reported is that the channel's coverage of the Pathankot terror attack on January 2, 2016 that the government claims gave out sensitive information to the handlers of terrorists. NDTV in its response to a show cause by the government has maintained that its coverage was sober and did not carry any information that had not been covered by the rest of the media, and was in the public domain.
The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency. This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage. There are various legal remedies available to both a citizen and a state in the Court of Law to have action taken for any irresponsible media coverage. Imposing a ban without resorting to judicial intervention or oversight violates the fundamental principles of freedom and justice. The Editors Guild of India calls for an immediate withdrawal of the ban order.