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Press Council of India demands law against attacks on journos

MUMBAI: Concerned about the frequent attacks on journalists across the country, the Press Council of India (PCI) has demanded enactment of a law to make violence, whether physical or verbal, against journalists a cognisable offence with stringent punishment.

The PCI also wants the government to ensure that all cases of such attacks are referred to special courts and the trials completed within one year of filing of the chargesheet.

“Whenever a journalist is murdered, the case should be referred to the CBI or any other national-level investigative agency and investigation completed within three months,” a PCI sub-committee has suggested.

The sub-committee also stated that a special task force under the supervision of PCI or a court should probe all cases of attacks on journalists and that the investigation should be completed within one month.

“Any case against a journalist or an editor should be booked only after getting clearance from the DGP, as is the practice in Madhya Pradesh,” it added.

The recommendations, prepared by a PCI sub-committee on safety of journalists, have been adopted by the council, PCI chairperson Justice (Retd) Chandramauli Kumar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi today.

The PCI also wants 3 November to be declared ‘National Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’.

Prasad further said that the PCI would take up matters related to attack on electronic journalists and not just those belonging to the print media, as was earlier done.

The PCI decision comes in the wake of rising concerns over recent cases of violence against journalists including the fatal attack on Jogendra Singh in UP.

Emphasising that safety of journalists is a matter of great concern for the PCI, Prasad, who is a former judge of the Supreme Court, said that penal provisions need to be made stiffer to safeguard them.

The sub-committee report was presented by K Amarnath and member Rajeev Ranjan Nag. Eight other PCI members were also part of the sub-committee.