Defending the journalists who exposed the Karnataka legislators watching pornography inside the Assembly, Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju has asked the state’s Speaker to “withdraw the proceedings against them and instead take strong action against the MLAs who have brought disgrace to the House”.
In a letter to Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, he added that “in a democracy all proceedings in a Legislative Assembly must be freely telecast and reported so that the people, who are the supreme authority in a democracy, know how their representatives are behaving.”
Justice Katju felt that the inquiry committee questioning the journalists jeopardises the freedom of the media guaranteed as a fundamental right by the Constitution, and seeks to create an impression that it is the media which has brought the House into disrepute rather than the MLAs involved.
“In my respectful opinion the inquiry committee can certainly ask media persons concerned questions to ascertain correct facts about this sordid affair,” said the letter. “But from what I could gather, the question being asked gives the impression that the media persons are being treated as an accused of some offence, and are being grilled accordingly.”
As legislators, the Karnataka MLAs are accountable to the people of their state who have a right to be kept informed of their actions, said Justice Katju, adding that the media was only doing its duty and “deserved to be applauded for their courageous reporting.”