Press Council of India will not tolerate assault on journalists, says its Chairman

Chairman of Press Council of India Markandey Katju has warned Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to “suppress the activities of hooligans or police personnel who violate the fundamental rights of citizens, including journalists”.

He was speaking to journalists and civil society groups after receiving separate memorandums in connection with the arrest of Kasturi Newz 24 journalist Naveen Soorinje in connection with the July 28 homestay attack case.

Clarifying that he would not make any comment on Mr. Soorinje’s arrest as it was sub judice , he said he was informed about the harassment of journalists here. Mr. Katju said the press council would not tolerate assaults on journalists.

“I therefore make it clear that the Press Council will not tolerate violation of press freedom either by assaults on journalists or giving threats or in any other manner.

"Freedom of the press is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, and it is the duty of the State to uphold this right.”

Stating that “the State government is being warned that if it does not protect journalists and uphold press freedom, it will be deemed that it is unable to run the government in accordance with the Constitution”, he added: “Legal consequences will follow.”

Article 356 is invoked when the President of India finds, on the report of the Governor or otherwise, that the State government is unable to function in accordance with the Constitution. I am also part of ‘otherwise’ and anybody can make a recommendation. Of course, it is up to the President to accept it or not. Under Article 355, the Central government can issue a warning to the State government asking it to run the government in accordance with the Constitution, failing which recourse may be had to Article 356.”

A memorandum was submitted by Mangalore Journalists’ Study Centre and another by civil society groups. Another memorandum was submitted jointly by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike and the Mahila Daurjanya Virodhi Vedike.