Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh attempted to impose a virtual “gag order” on the panel set up to probe Posco's steel project in Orissa, but not all members were willing to play along.

When Mr. Ramesh asked journalists not to speak to members until they had read the entire 199-page report, he was asked if he was imposing a gag order on the panel.

“Yes, I am imposing a gag order,” he shot back, unprepared for the immediate objection from one of the members, V. Suresh. “As a human rights activist, I am not happy with that,” said Mr. Suresh, an advocate with the Madras High Court and a leader of the People's Union for Civil Liberties.

Mr. Ramesh asked Mr. Suresh to wait at least two days. “I must ask you to defer to me on this. I have a greater knowledge of the media.”

However, the unrelenting member insisted that he would still be “uncomfortable” with any such curbs on his right to free speech.