The Press Council of India, whose support for media restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir had led to criticism this week, has now decided to change its stance in the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the council proposed to its members that its plea should not approve of any sort of media restrictions.
The council invited its members to make suggestions to the proposal. The new stance came a day before the top court is expected to hear a plea filed by Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin that demanded that the restrictions on the media in Jammu and Kashmir be removed.
“The Council stands for the freedom of the press and does not approve of any sort of restriction on the media,” the Press Council said in its proposed statement to the Supreme Court. The council said it would file a detailed reply in the court after receiving the report of a sub-committee that will visit Jammu and Kashmir to study the “media scenario” there.
Last week, the Press Council of India had asked the Supreme Court’s permission to intervene in Bhasin’s plea. The council, in its intervention petition, supported the ban on media and said it was “in the interest of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation”.
The association changed its stand after widespread criticism from journalists, other organisations and allegations from members that they were not consulted before the petition was filed. While a group of journalists alleged that the council had abrogated its constitutional responsibility towards standing for press freedom, the Editors Guild of India asked it to rescind its decision.
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