In view of complaints from several States about attacks on media persons and covert measures adopted to undermine press freedom, Justice Markandey Katju, chairman, Press Council of India, has decided to send fact-finding teams to review the situation in various areas.

“Freedom of speech and expression is a guaranteed right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. Since I feel that this freedom is under threat in many States I intend to send fact-finding teams to some of the States from where we are getting a large number of such complaints. I have sought the opinion of the members of the Press Council in this connection,” Justice Katju said in a press statement on Friday.

The complaints from “several quarters in several States,” indicated that “the freedom of the Press is in various ways being imperilled.”

Physical assaults on journalists and media houses by government agencies, persons or organisations and withholding government advertisements and other facilities when the newspaper was critical of the government were some of the ways in which press freedom was being threatened, he observed.

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