TAMIL NADU

SC saves Press freedom: DMK

CHENNAI NOV. 10. The DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, today said the Supreme Court decision "saved Press freedom. There is nothing more I can say on that." The DMK and other Opposition parties would still go ahead with Wednesday's human chain.

"The action against Parithi (Ilamvazhuthi, DMK MLA) still stands. He is still in jail," Mr. Karunanidhi told presspersons here. The party would seek legal recourse to get him released.

Asked whether newer laws were needed to ensure protection of the Press, Mr. Karunanidhi said the implementation of any legislation depended directly on the disposition of those in charge.

On the Speaker, K.Kalimuthu's claim that the Chief Minister was in no way connected with the November 7 sentence awarded to the journalists, he said, "like you (the Press), no one in the country would believe it."

While the action of the Speaker against the journalists in itself constituted an infringement of the freedom of the Press, the ruling party and Assembly officials violated many procedures, Mr.Karunanidhi said. The Business Advisory Committee was authorised to decide on the agenda for the session. In this case, it was not even informed of the Government's intention to table the recommendations of the Privileges Committee. Also, the BAC had decided that there would be no question hour on November 7. This decision was flouted and question hour restored. Even after the Privileges Committee debated the reply by the journalists, they should have been given a chance to explain their case. This was not done. The journalists had said they would be ready to present themselves before the committee if it needed any clarification, Mr. Karunanidhi pointed out.

The Assembly rules provided for closure of the doors only when a division was pressed. But in this case there was no division, but the Speaker ordered that the doors be closed. Also, a separate agenda was not circulated when the House met in the afternoon. On November 7, a supplementary agenda was issued. But even here, the intention to table the Privileges Committee report was not mentioned.

These were only a few of the violations, which had become a regular feature in the Assembly.

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