The Press Council of India asked for permission from the Supreme Court to intervene in a plea filed by the Kashmir Times editor that demanded restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir be removed, The Wire reported. The press council, in its petition, supported the ban on media and said it was “in the interest of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation”.
The council said that it would like to present its views to the court in order to assist in deciding on the petition filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin. It said that it would do so “justly in the interest of the freedom of the press as well as in the national interest”.
The application by the council also that there was no mention of the “abrogation of most contentious provision of the constitution” in Bhasin’s petition which had caused the restrictions. The press council, in its plea, also mentioned its functions under Section 13 of the Press Council Act, 1978, and highlighted the Norms of Journalistic Conduct to establish its locus standi.
The Kashmir Times editor, in her petition, had stated that the restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 [equality before the law] and 19 [freedom of speech and expression] of the Constitution of India. She said the shutdown has fueled anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir.
It also said that the information blackout was a “direct and grave violation of the right of the people to know about the decisions that directly impact their lives and their future”. Bhasin further added that it stopped the media from reporting the developments and from knowing the opinions of the citizens of the state.
The press council had reportedly held a meeting on Thursday where a proposal to send a fact-finding team to Jammu and Kashmir was mooted, The Wire reported after speaking to two current members of the organisation. They told the news website that the petition to the Supreme Court was not mentioned in the meeting and that the two members were unaware that the council had decided to intervene in the matter.
“The wording of this petition is so dangerous,” a council member was quoted as saying. “Though the rules say that the chairman has to get the council’s endorsement for any decision he takes in between meetings, he did not even inform the council about the fact that the PCI is intervening in Anuradha Bhasin’s case.”