EGI seeks withdrawal of new Central Media Accreditation Guidelines

It says the regulations were introduced without prior consultation to media bodies

Published - February 21, 2022 02:02 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday sought withdrawal of the newly released Central Media Accreditation Guidelines.

Expressing concern over the new guidelines issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Guild said: “It is clear that these vague, arbitrary and draconian clauses have been included with an intent to restrict any critical and investigative reporting of government affairs. There are other provisions as well that are restrictive,” it said.

The EGI said in the case of freelance journalists, the requirements pertaining to the number of bylines had been made unreasonably high. “The guidelines have been introduced without any prior consultation with journalists’ bodies, media or organisation or any other relevant stakeholders. The Guild, therefore, demands a withdrawal of these guidelines and urges PIB to undertake meaningful consultation with all the stakeholders if it is intent on revising them,” it said.

The PIB lays down the rules for giving accreditation to journalists for accessing and reporting from the headquarters of the government of India.

The Guild said the guidelines contained various new provisions under which accreditation could be revoked if the journalist was charged with a serious cognisable offence, or if the journalist acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

“It is bizarre that merely being charged has been mentioned as a ground for cancellation. The other grounds for cancellations are manifestly vague and subjective, especially since no procedures have been set out and there is no mention of the adjudicating authority that will decide on suspension. Worst still, concerned journalists have not been given an opportunity to be heard. Most surprisingly, ‘defamation’ has been included as a ground for cancellation,” said the EGI statement.

The Guild said a new clause requiring police verification had been added without defining the contours of such verification. “Since no standards have been prescribed, it can grant unfettered powers to the police for denying accreditation to journalists who may be seen as critical of the government,” it added.

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