Editors Guild condemns A-G's comments on The Hindu’s investigation

Journalist organisations have unequivocally condemned the Attorney General’s statements before the Supreme Court on The Hindu’s publication of documents as part of its investigative reporting on the Rafale deal.

On Wednesday, the Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the apex court that the documents had been “stolen” from the Defence Ministry and that investigations were ongoing to find out if should be deemed a crime, and violative of the Official Secrets Act.

“Any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the media is as reprehensible as asking the journalists to disclose their sources,” said the Editors Guild in a strongly worded statement, adding that “threats” would intimidate the media in general and curb its freedom to report and comment on the Rafale deal in particular. “The Guild denounces these threats and urges the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media’s freedom and independence.”

In a joint statement, the Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Press Association also condemned the A-G’s statements, saying they had “the potential of sending out a chilling effect to one and all in the media” and also had ramifications for the sources of information that journalists rely on. Journalist bodies called for a re-examination of the Official Secrets Act and the law on defamation, given the potential for their misuse against the news media.

“The Fourth Estate is bound by its dual responsibility of reporting what is in public interest as well as raising questions, irrespective of the government in power, which is part of its moral responsibility,” said the statement. “It is deeply unfortunate that it is the discharge of this responsibility that is being sought to be stymied by top ranking officials of the government.”

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 6:23:45 PM |

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