Coronavirus | Consider plea for compensation to scribes, media personnel: HC

A view of Karnataka High Court in Bangalore. Photo: V. Sreenivasa

A view of Karnataka High Court in Bangalore. Photo: V. Sreenivasa  

‘Their role cannot be underestimated or undermined during COVID-19’

Observing that the role of journalists and media personnel can neither be underestimated nor undermined during COVID-19 pandemic, the Karnataka High Court directed the Central and State governments to consider as per the law, a representation made by a petitioner seeking payment of compensation in case a journalist or media personnel dies of the infection.

“...just like police, doctors, nurses, government personnel and others who are carrying out essential duties, in the same way, journalists and other media personnel are on the field so as to disseminate and convey correct information to citizens about the impact of the pandemic and other information from the world over,” the court observed.

PIL petition

A Division Bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice Suraj Govindaraj passed the order on May 15, while disposing of a PIL petition filed by Jacob George, a resident of Bengaluru.

The petitioner had given representation for paying compensation of ₹50 lakh to the kin of a mediaperson who dies of COVID-19 on the lines of provision made for healthcare personnel.

Risk to life

Mediapersons have to risk their health and life to be on ground zero, at hotspots and in containment zones so as to collect information to convey it to the public, either through the press or electronic media for responsible reporting, and also to ensure that the distress of the people and their despair are made known to the government and its instrumentalities so that suitable action is taken for the containment of the virus, the Bench noted.

Challenging times

The Bench also observed that “journalists, whether working for the press or electronic media, either on the field or in studios/offices, play a significant and important role. While discharging their duties, they face immense challenges in times such as the current pandemic as they expose themselves to the risk of being infected even as they perform their duties on the frontiers.”

The Bench also said that the media, in the present health crisis, should be responsible in reporting true and correct facts and not exaggerating or sensationalising to create fear or panic amongst people.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 4:13:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/coronavirus-consider-plea-for-compensation-to-scribes-media-personnel-hc/article31725781.ece

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