Norms for Journalist Conduct
Principles and Ethics
Norms for Journalist Conduct: The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views, comments and information on matters of public interest in a fair, accurate, unbiased, sober and decent manner. To this end, the Press is expected to conduct itself in keeping with certain norms of professionalism, universally recognised. The norms enunciated below and other specific guidelines appended thereafter, when applied with due discernment and adaptation to the varying circumstance of each case, will help the journalist to self-regulate his or her conduct.
1. Accuracy and Fairness
i) The Press shall eschew publication of inaccurate, baseless, graceless, misleading or distorted material. All sides of the core issue or subject should be reported. Unjustified rumours and surmises should not be set forth as facts.
2. Pre-publication Verification
i) On receipt of a report or article of public interest and benefit containing imputations or comments against a citizen, the editor should check with due care and attention its factual accuracy apart from other authentic sources- with the person or the organisation concerned to elicit his/her or its version, comments or reaction and publish the same alongside with due correction in the report where necessary. In the event of lack or absence of response, a footnote to that effect may be appended to the report.
ii) Publication of news such as those pertaining to cancellation of examinations or withdrawal of candidates from election should be avoided without proper verification and cross checking .
iii) A document, which forms a basis of a news report, should be preserved at least for six months.
3. Caution against defamatory writings
i) Newspaper should not publish anything which is manifestly defamatory or libellous against any individual/organisation unless after due care and verification, there is sufficient reason/evidence to believe that it is true and its publication will be for public good.
ii) Truth is no defence for publishing derogatory, scurrilous and defamatory material against a private citizen where no public interest is involved.
iii) No personal remarks which may be considered or construed to be derogatory in nature against a dead person should be published except in rare cases of public interest, as the dead person cannot possibly contradict or deny those remarks.
iv) The Press has a duty, discretion and right to serve the public interest by drawing reader’s attention to citizens of doubtful antecedents and of questionable character but as responsible journalists they should observe due restraint and caution in hazarding their own opinion or conclusion in branding these persons as ‘cheats’ or ‘killers’ etc. The cardinal principle being that the guilt of a person should be established by proof of facts alleged and not by proof of the bad character of the accused. In the zest to expose, the Press should not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comment.
v) The Press shall not rely on objectionable past behaviour of a citizen to provide the background for adverse comments with reference to fresh action of that person. If public good requires such reference, the Press should make pre-publication inquiries from the authorities concerned about the follow up action, if any, in regard to earlier adverse actions.
vi) Where the impugned publication is manifestly injurious to the reputation of the complainant, the onus shall be on the respondent to show that it was true or to establish that it constituted fair comment made in good faith and for public good.
(vii) Newspapers cannot claim privilege or licence to malign a person or body claiming special protection or immunity on the plea of having published the item as a satire under special columns such as ‘gossip’, ‘parody’, etc.
(viii) Publication of defamatory news by one paper does not give licence to others to publish news/ information reproducing or repeating the same.
(ix) Insertion of out -of -context, uncalled for and irrelevant statements likely to malign a person or an organisation must be eschewed.
(x) Freedom of Press does not give licence to a newspaper to malign a political leader or mar his future political prospects by publishing fake and defamatory writings.
(xi) Locus Standi
In cases involving personal allegations /criticism, only the concerned person enjoying the locus standi can move the plaint or claim right to reply.
However a representative organisation of persons attached to an organisation or a sect / group has the locus standi to move complaints against a publication directly criticising the conduct of a leader.
xii Public Interest and Public Bodies
As a custodian of public interest, the Press has a right to highlight cases of corruption and irregularities in public bodies but such material should be based on irrefutable evidence and published after due inquiries and verification from the concerned source and after obtaining the version of the person/authority being commented upon. Newspapers should refrain from barbed, stinging and pungent language and ironical /satirical style of comment.
4.Parameters of the right of the Press to comment on the acts and conduct of public officials
i) So far as the government, local authority and other organs/institutions exercising governmental power are concerned, they cannot bring charge of defamation for reports critical of their acts and conduct relevant to the discharge of their official duties unless the official establishes that the publication was made with reckless disregard for the truth. However, judiciary, which is protected by the power to punish for contempt of court, and the Parliament and Legislatures, protected as their privileges are by Articles 105 and 194 respectively of the Constitution of India, represent exception to this rule.
ii) The central and local bodies are not entitled to bring a civil or criminal action for defamation in respect of article/report criticising their functioning.
iii) Publication of news or comments/information on public officials conducting investigations should not have a tendency to help the commission of offences or to impede the prevention or detection of offences or prosecution of the guilty. The investigative agency is also under a corresponding obligation not to leak out or disclose such information or indulge in misinformation.
iv) The Official Secrets Act, 1923 or any other similar enactment or provision having the force of law equally bind the press or media though there is no law empowering the state or its officials to prohibit, or to impose a prior restraint upon the Press/media.
v) Those who hold public office and by their own conduct give scope for criticising them, cannot be heard to complain against such criticism.
5.Criticism of Public Figures/Music Reviews
An actor or singer who appears on a public stage submits his performance to the judgement of public and as such the critics’ comments having proximate nexus with the merits of artists performance can not be held to be defamatory. However, the critics should refrain from writing anything, which could, be construed as remotely casting cloud on the artist’s personal credibility.
6. Right to Privacy
i) The Press shall not intrude or invade the privacy of an individual, unless outweighed by genuine overriding public interest, not being a prurient or morbid curiosity. So, however, that once a matter becomes a matter of public record, the right to privacy no longer subsists and it becomes a legitimate subject for comment by the Press and the media, among others.
Explanation: Things concerning a person’s home, family, religion, health, sexuality, personal life and private affairs are covered by the concept of PRIVACY excepting where any of these impinges upon the public or public interest.
ii) Caution against Identification: While reporting crime involving rape, abduction or kidnap of women/females or sexual assault on children, or raising doubts and questions touching the chastity, personal character and privacy of women, the names, photographs of the victims or other particulars leading to their identity shall not be published.
iii) Minor children and infants who are the offspring of sexual abuse or ‘forcible marriage’ or illicit sexual union shall not be identified or photographed.
7. Privacy of Public figures
i) Right to Privacy is an inviolable human right. However, the degree of privacy differs from person to person and from situation to situation. The public person who functions under public gaze as an emissary/representative of the public cannot expect to be afforded the same degree of privacy as a private person. His acts and conduct as are of public interest (‘public interest’ being distinct and separate from ‘of interest to public’) even if conducted in private may be brought to public knowledge through the medium of the press. The press has however, a corresponding duty to ensure that the information about such acts and conduct of public interest of the public person is obtained through fair means, is properly verified and then reported accurately. For obtaining information in respect of acts done or conducted away from public gaze, the press is not expected to use surveillance devices. For obtaining information about private talks and discussion while the press is expected not to badger the public persons, the public persons are also expected to bring more openness in their functioning and co-operate with the press in its duty of informing the public about the acts of their representatives.
ii) The interviews/articles or arguments pertaining to public persons which border on events that are in public knowledge, if reported correctly, cannot be termed as intrusion into private life. There is a very thin line between public and private life and public persons should not to be too skinned to criticism
iii) Newspapers are allowed latitude in criticising persons who are in seats of power because their conduct discloses public interest provided their criticism is not motivated to gratify private spite of opponent/rival of public figure.
8. Recording interviews and phone conversation
i) The Press shall not tape-record anyone’s conversation without that person’s knowledge or consent, except where the recording is necessary to protect the journalist in a legal action, or for other compelling good reason.
ii) The Press shall, prior to publication, delete offensive epithets used by a person whose statements are being reported.
iii) Intrusion through photography into moments of personal grief shall be avoided. However, photography of victims of accidents or natural calamity may be in larger public interest.
9. Conjecture, comment and fact
i) Newspaper should not pass on or elevate conjecture, speculation or comment as a statement of fact. All these categories should be distinctly identified.
ii) Cartoons and caricatures depicting good humour are to be placed in a special category of news that enjoy more liberal attitude.
10. Newspapers to eschew suggestive guilt
i) Newspapers should eschew suggestive guilt by association. They should not name or identify the family or relatives or associates of a person convicted or accused of a crime, when they are totally innocent and a reference to them is not relevant to the matter being reported.
ii ) It is contrary to the norms of journalism for a paper to identify itself with and project or promote the case of any one party in the case of any controversy/dispute.
11. Reporting-Proceedings of Legislature
The newspapers have a duty to report faithfully the proceedings of either House of Parliament, Legislative Assembly and in this regard the newspapers shall not be liable for any proceedings civil or criminal in any court unless it is proved that reportings have been made with malice. However, the newspapers should not publish any report based on proceedings of a sitting of either House of Parliament or Legislative Assembly or as the case may be either House of the Legislature of a State, which is not open to the media.
12. a) Caution in criticising judicial acts
i) Excepting where the court sits ‘in-camera’ or directs otherwise, it is open to a newspaper to report pending judicial proceedings, in a fair, accurate and reasonable manner. But it shall not publish anything :-
-which, in its direct and immediate effect, creates a substantial risk of obstructing, impeding or prejudicing seriously the due administration of justice; or
-is in the nature of a running commentary or debate, or records the paper’s own findings conjectures, reflection or comments on issues, sub judice and which may amount to abrogation to the newspaper the functions of the court; or
-regarding the personal character of the accused standing trial on a charge of committing a crime.
ii) Newspaper shall not as a matter of caution, publish or comment on evidence collected as a result of investigative journalism, when, after the accused is arrested and charged, the court becomes seized of the case: Nor should they reveal, comment upon or evaluate a confession allegedly made by the accused.
iii) While newspapers may, in the public interest, make reasonable criticism of a judicial act or the judgement of a court for public good; they shall not cast scurrilous aspersions on, or impute improper motives, or personal bias to the judge. Nor shall they scandalise the court or the judiciary as a whole, or make personal allegations of lack of ability or integrity against a judge.
iv)Newspaper shall, as a matter of caution, avoid unfair and unwarranted criticism which, by innuendo, attributes to a judge extraneous consideration for performing an act in due course of his/her judicial functions, even if such criticism does not strictly amount to criminal Contempt of Court.
b) Reporting News pertaining to Court Proceedings
Before publishing a news item about court proceedings, it will be appropriate for the correspondent and editor to ascertain its genuineness and, correctness and authenticity from the records so that the concerned person can be held guilty and accountable for furnishing incorrect facts or wrong information about the court proceedings.
When any factual error or mistake is detected or confirmed, the newspaper should suo-motu publish the correction promptly with due prominence and with apology or expression of regrets in a case of serious lapse.
14. Right of Reply
i) The newspaper should promptly and with due prominence, publish either in full or with due editing, free of cost, at the instance of the person affected or feeling aggrieved/or concerned by the impugned publication, a contradiction/reply/ clarification or rejoinder sent to the editor in the form of a letter or note. If the editor doubts the truth or factual accuracy of the contradiction/reply/clarification or rejoinder, he shall be at liberty to add separately at the end, a brief editorial comment doubting its veracity, but only when this doubt is reasonably founded on unimpeachable documentary or other evidential material in his/her possession. This is a concession which has to be availed of sparingly with due discretion and caution in appropriate cases.
ii)However, where the reply/contradiction or rejoinder is being published in compliance with the directions of the Press Council, it is permissible to append a brief editorial note to that effect.
iii) Right of rejoinder cannot be claimed through the medium of Press Conference, as publication/coverage of a news of a conference is within the discretionary powers of an editor.
iv) Freedom of the Press involves the readers’ right to know all sides of an issue of public interest. An editor, therefore, shall not refuse to publish the reply or rejoinder merely on the ground that in his opinion the story published in the newspaper was true. That is an issue to be left to the judgement of the readers. It also does not behove an editor to show contempt towards a reader.
15. Letters to editor
i) An editor who decides to open his columns for letters on a controversial subject, is not obliged to publish all the letters received in regard to that subject. He is entitled to select and publish only some of them either in entirety or the gist thereof. However, in exercising this discretion, he must make an honest endeavour to ensure that what is published is not one-sided but represents a fair balance between the views for and against with respect to the principal issue in controversy.
ii) In the event of rejoinder upon rejoinder being sent by two parties on a controversial subject, the editor has the discretion to decide at which stage to close the continuing column.
16. Editors’ Discretion
i) In the matter of writing an editorial , the editor enjoys a good deal of latitude and discretion. It is for him to choose the subject and it is also for him to use such language as he considers appropriate, provided that in writing the editorial he doesn’t transgress the law and violate the norms of journalism and editorial comments published in the newspaper should be couched in sober and dignified language.
ii) Selection of the material for publication as reports/articles/letter is within the discretion of an editor, therefore it is his duty to see that on a controversial issue of public interest, all views are given equal prominence so that the people can form their independent opinion in the matter.
iii) The editor should not publish the news report/article if his mind is in doubt about the truth of the news report/article. If the veracity of any part of the news report/article is in doubt, that portion should be omitted and rest be published provided the editor is satisfied that the remainder is substantially true and its publication will be for public benefit.
17. Obscenity and vulgarity to be eschewed
i) Newspapers/journalists shall not publish anything which is obscene, vulgar or offensive to public good taste.
ii) Newspapers shall not display advertisements which are vulgar or which, through depiction of a woman in nude or lewd posture, provoke lecherous attention of males as if she herself was a commercial commodity for sale.
iii ) Whether a picture is obscene or not, is to be judged in relation to three tests; namely
a) Is it vulgar and indecent?
b) Is it a piece of mere pornography?
c) Is its publication meant merely to make money by titillating the sex feelings of adolescents and among whom it is intended to circulate? In other words, does it constitute an unwholesome exploitation for commercial gain.
Other relevant considerations are whether the picture is relevant to the subject matter of the magazine. That is to say, whether its publication serves any preponderating social or public purpose, in relation to art, painting, medicine, research or reform of sex.
iv) The globalisation and liberalisation does not give licence to the media to misuse freedom of the press and to lower the values of the society. The media performs a distinct role and public purpose which require it to rise above commercial consideration guiding other industries and businesses. So far as that role is concerned, one of the duties of the media is to preserve and promote our cultural heritage and social values.
v) Columns such as ‘Very Personal’ in a newspaper replying to personal queries of the readers must not become grossly offensive presentations, which either outrage public decency or corrupt public moral.
18. (a) Glorification/encouragement of social evils to be eschewed
Newspapers shall not allow their columns to be misused for writings which have a tendency to encourage or glorify social evils like Sati Pratha or ostentatious celebrations.
(b) Reporting on natural calamities
Facts and data relating to spread of epidemics or natural calamities shall be checked up thoroughly from authentic sources and then published with due restraint in a manner bereft of sensationalism, exaggeration, surmises or unverified facts.
19. Violence not to be glorified
i) Photo Coverage on Terrorist Attack, Communal Clashes and Accidents
While reporting news with regard to terrorist attacks or communal riots, the media should refrain from publishing/telecasting pictures of mangled corpses or any other photographic coverage which may create terror, or revulsion or ignite communal passion among people.
ii) Newspapers/journalists shall avoid presenting acts of violence, armed robberies and terrorist activities in a manner that glorifies the perpetrators on their acts, declarations or death in the eyes of the public. Publication of interviews of anti-social elements by the newspapers glorifying the criminals and their activities with the resultant effects are to be avoided.
20) Covering communal disputes/clashes
i) News, views or comments relating to communal or religious disputes/clashes shall be published after proper verification of facts and presented with due caution and restraint in a manner which is conducive to the creation of an atmosphere congenial to communal harmony, amity and peace. Sensational, provocative and alarming headlines are to be avoided. Acts of communal violence or vandalism shall be reported in a manner as may not undermine the people’s confidence in the law and order machinery of the State. Giving community-wise figures of the victims of communal riot, or writing about the incident in a style which is likely to inflame passions, aggravate the tension, or accentuate the strained relations between the communities/religious groups concerned, or which has a potential to exacerbate the trouble, shall be avoided.
ii) Journalists and columnists owe a very special responsibility to their country in promoting communal peace and amity. Their writings are not a
mere reflection of their own feelings but help to large extent in moulding the feelings and sentiments of the society at large. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that they use their pen with circumspection and restrain.
iii) The role of media in such situations (Gujarat Carnage/Crisis) is to be peacemakers and not abettors, to be troubleshooters and not troublemakers. Let the media play their noble role of promoting peace and harmony among the people in the present crisis in Gujarat. Any trend to disrupt the same either directly or indirectly would be an anti-national act. There is a greater moral responsibility on the media to do their best to build up the national solidarity and to recement the communal harmony at all levels remembering the noble role they had played during the pre-independence days.
iv) The media, as a chronicle of tomorrow’s history, owes an undeniable duty to the future to record events as simple untailored facts. The analysis of the events and opinion thereon are a different genre altogether. The treatment of the two also thus has necessarily to be different. In times of crisis, facts unadorned and simply put, with due care and restraint, cannot be reasonably objected to in a democracy. However, a heavy responsibility devolves on the author of opinion articles. The author has to ensure that not only are his or her analysis free from any personal preferences, prejudices or notions, but also they are based on verified, accurate and established facts and do not tend to foment disharmony or enmity between castes, communities and races.
21. Headings not to be sensational/provocative and must justify the matter printed under them
i) In general and particularly in the context of communal disputes or clashes
a. Provocative and sensational headlines are to be avoided;
b. Headings must reflect and justify the matter printed under them;
c. Headings containing allegations made in statements should either identify the body or the source making it or at least carry quotation marks.
22. Caste, religion or community references
i) In general, the caste identification of a person or a particular class should be avoided, particularly when in the context it conveys a sense or attributes a conduct or practice derogatory to that caste.
ii) Newspapers are advised against the use of word ‘Scheduled Caste’ or ‘Harijan’ which has been objected to by some.
iii) An accused or a victim shall not be described by his caste or community when the same does not have anything to do with the offence or the crime and plays no part either in the identification of any accused or proceeding, if there be any.
iv)* Newspaper should not publish any fictional literature distorting and portraying the religious characters in an adverse light and offending the religious susceptibilities of large sections of society who hold those characters in high esteem, invested with attributes of the virtuous and lofty. change made on 16/12/04.
i) Commercial exploitation of the name of prophets, seers or deities is repugnant to journalistic ethics and good taste.
vi) It is the duty of the newspaper to ensure that the tone, spirit and language of a write up is not objectionable, provocative, against the unity and integrity of the country, spirit of the constitution seditious and inflammatory in nature or designed to promote communal disharmony. It should also not attempt to promote balkanisation of the country.
vii) One of the jobs of the journalists is also to bring forth to the public notice the plight of the weaker sections of society. They are the watchdogs on behalf of the society of its weaker sections.
23 Paramount national interest
i) Newspapers shall, as a matter of self-regulation, exercise due restraint and caution in presenting any news, comment or information which is likely to jeopardise, endanger or harm the paramount interests of the State and society, or the rights of individuals with respect to which reasonable restrictions may be imposed by law on the right to freedom of speech and expression under clause (2) of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
ii) Publication of wrong/incorrect map is a very serious offence. It adversely affects the territorial integrity of the country and warrants prompt and prominent retraction with regrets.
24 Foreign Relations
Media plays a very important role in moulding public opinion and developing better understanding between countries. Objective reporting so as not to jeopardise friendly bilateral relations is therefore desirable.
25. Newspapers may expose misuse of diplomatic immunity
The media shall make every possible effort to build bridges of co-operation, friendly relations and better understanding between India and foreign States. At the same time, it is the duty of a newspaper to expose any misuse or undue advantage of the diplomatic immunities.
26. Investigative journalism, its norms and parameters
Investigative reporting has three basic elements.
a. It has to be the work of the reporter, not of others he is reporting;
b. The subject should be of public importance for the reader to know;
c. An attempt is being made to hide the truth from the people.
The first norm follows as a necessary corollary from
(a) That the investigative reporter should, as a rule, base his story on facts investigated, detected and verified by himself and not on hearsay or on
derivative evidence collected by a third party, not checked up from direct, authentic sources by the reporter himself.
(b) There being a conflict between the factors which require openness and those which necessitate secrecy, the investigative journalist should strike and maintain in his report a proper balance between openness on the one hand and secrecy on the other, placing the public good above everything.
(c) The investigative journalist should resist the temptation of quickies or quick gains conjured up from half-baked incomplete, doubtful facts, not fully checked up and verified from authentic sources by the reporter himself.
(d) Imaginary facts, or ferreting out or conjecturing the non-existent should be scrupulously avoided. Facts facts and yet more facts are vital and they should be checked and cross-checked whenever possible until the moment the paper goes to Press.
(e) The newspaper must adopt strict standards of fairness and accuracy of facts. Findings should be presented in an objective manner, without exaggerating or distorting, that would stand up in a court of law, if necessary.
(f) The reporter must not approach the matter or the issue under investigation, in a manner as though he were the prosecutor or counsel for the prosecution. The reporter’s approach should be fair, accurate and balanced. All facts properly checked up, both for and against the core issues, should be distinctly and separately stated, free from any one-sided inferences or unfair comments. The tone and tenor of the report and its language should be sober, decent and dignified, and not needlessly offensive, barbed, derisive or castigatory, particularly while commenting on the version of the person
whose alleged activity or misconduct is being investigated. Nor should the investigative reporter conduct the proceedings and pronounce his verdict of guilt or innocence against the person whose alleged criminal acts and conduct were investigated, in a manner as if he were a court trying the accused.
(g) In all proceedings including the investigation, presentation and publication of the report, the investigative journalist newspaper should be guided by the paramount principle of criminal jurisprudence, that a person is innocent unless the offence alleged against him is proved beyond doubt by independent, reliable evidence.
(h) The private life, even of a public figure, is his own. Exposition or invasion of his personal privacy or private life is not permissible unless there is clear evidence that the wrong doings in question have a reasonable nexus with the misuse of his public position or power and has an adverse impact on public interest.
(i) Though the legal provisions of Criminal Procedure do not in terms, apply to investigating proceedings by a journalist, the fundamental principles underlying them can be adopted as a guide on grounds of equity, ethics and good conscience.
27. Confidence to be respected
If information is received from a confidential source, the confidence should be respected. The journalist cannot be compelled by the Press Council to disclose such source; but it shall not be regarded as a breach of journalistic ethics if the source is voluntarily disclosed in proceedings before the Council by the journalist who considers it necessary to repel effectively a charge against him/her. This rule requiring a newspaper not to publish matters disclosed to it in confidence, is not applicable where:
(a) consent of the source is subsequently obtained; or
(b) the editor clarifies by way of an appropriate footnote that since the publication of certain matters were in the public interest, the information in question was being published although it had been made ‘off the record’.
28. Newspapers to avoid crass commercialism
i) While newspapers are entitled to ensure, improve or strengthen their financial viability by all legitimate means, the Press shall not engage in crass commercialism or unseemly cut-throat commercial competition with their rivals in a manner repugnant to high professional standards and good taste.
ii) Predatory price wars/trade competition among newspapers, laced with tones disparaging the products of each other, initiated and carried on in print, assume the colour of unfair ‘trade’ practice, repugnant to journalistic ethics. The question as when it assumes such an unethical character, is one of the fact depending on the circumstances of each case.
iii) The practice of taking security deposit by an editor from the journalists at the time of their appointment is unethical.
29. Fraudulent activities
Defrauding the public by closing down a publication subsequent to collection of subscription is unethical on the part of management of the paper/periodical/magazine. If the closure is inevitable, the subscription amount due should be returned to the subscribers.
30. Professional misconduct
Blackmailing or extortion of money from people under threat of maligning them through the columns of newspaper amounts to gross violation of journalistic norms.
31 Professional rivalry
Newspaper columns should not be misused by rival newspapers to gratify their private spite against each other out of commercial rivalry.
i) Using or passing off the writings or ideas of another as one’s own, without crediting the source, is an offence against ethics of journalism.
ii) Violation of copyright also constitutes violation of journalistic norms.
33.Unauthorised lifting of news
i) The practice of lifting news from other newspapers publishing them subsequently as their own, ill-comports the high standards of journalism. To remove its unethicality the ‘lifting’ newspaper must duly acknowledge the source of the report.
ii) The position of features articles is different from ‘news’: Feature articles shall not be lifted without permission/ proper acknowledgement.
34. Illegal reproduction
The Press shall not reproduce in any form offending portions or excerpts from a proscribed book.
35.Non-return of unsolicited material
i) A paper is not bound to return unsolicited material sent for consideration of publication. However, when the same is accompanied by stamped envelope, the paper should make all efforts to return it.
ii) Whenever articles from the contributors are published free of remuneration, there must be an agreement not to pay and the newspaper should follow this practice as a rule.
i) Commercial advertisements are information as much as social, economic or political information. What is more, advertisements shape attitude and ways of life at least as much, as other kinds of information and comment. Journalistic propriety demands that advertisements must be clearly distinguishable from news content carried in the newspaper.
ii) Newspaper should not publish Liquor & Tobacco Advertisements
No advertisement shall be published, which promotes directly or indirectly production, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor and other intoxicants.
iii) Newspaper shall not publish advertisements, which have a tendency to malign or hurt the religious sentiments of any community or section of society.
iv) Advertisements which offend the provisions of the Drugs and Magical Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954, or any other statute should be rejected.
v) Newspapers should not publish an advertisement containing anything which is unlawful or illegal, or is contrary to public decency, good taste or to journalistic ethics or propriety.
vi) Journalistic propriety demands that advertisements must be clearly distinguishable from editorial matter carried in the newspaper. Newspapers while publishing advertisements should specify the amount received by them. The rationale behind this is that advertisements should be charged at rates usually chargeable by a newspaper since payment of more than the normal rates would amount to a subsidy to the paper.
vii) Publication of dummy or lifted advertisements that have neither been paid for, nor authorised by the advertisers, constitute breach of journalistic ethics specially when the paper raises a bill in respect of such advertisements.
viii) Deliberate failure to publish an advertisement in all the copies of a newspaper offends against the standards of journalistic ethics and constitutes gross professional misconduct.
ix) There should be total co-ordination and communication between the advertisement department and the editorial department of a newspaper in the matter of considering the legality propriety or otherwise of an advertisement received for publication.
x) The editors should insist on their right to have the final say in the acceptance or rejection of advertisements, specially those which border on or cross the line between decency and obscenity.
xi) Newspapers to carry caution notice with matrimonial advertisements carrying following text *
“Readers are advised to make appropriate thorough inquiries before acting upon any advertisement. This newspaper does not vouch or subscribe to claim and representation made by the advertiser regarding the particulars of status, age, income of the bride/bridegroom”.
xii) An editor shall be responsible for all matters, including advertisements published in the newspaper. If responsibility is disclaimed, this shall be explicitly stated beforehand.
xiii) Tele-friendship advertisements carried by newspapers across the country inviting general public to dial the given number for ‘entertaining’ talk and offering suggestive tele-talk tend to pollute adolescent minds and promote immoral cultural ethos. The Press should refuse to accept such advertisements.
xiv) Classified advertisements of health and physical fitness services using undignified languages, indicative of covert soliciting, are violative of law as well as ethics. The newspaper should adopt a mechanism for vetting such an advertisement to ensure that the soliciting advertisements are not carried.
xv) Advertisements of contraceptive and supply of brand item attaching to the advertisement is not very ethical, given the social milieu and the traditional values held dear in our country. A newspaper has a sacred duty to educate people about precautionary measures to avoid AIDS and exhibit greater far sight in accepting advertisement even though issued by social welfare organisation.
* Foot note: – The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in connection with FAO No 65/1998 of Smt Harjeet Kaur Vs Shri Surinder Pal Singh directed the Press Council of India to instruct the newspaper to publish classified/matrimonial advertisment by advising them to alongside publish the said Caution Notice in their newspapers.
i) There is a well-recognised distinction between the editor and the journalists on the one hand and the Manager, the Executive or the Administrator on the other, whatever the nomenclature that they may carry in a particular newspaper establishment. The duties and responsibilities of the editor and the management differ and whatever the co-ordination may be required to efficiently manage the establishment to bring out the journal, the functions of the two are separate and have to kept as such.
Once the owner lays down the policy of the newspaper for general guidance, neither he nor anybody on his behalf can interfere with the day to day functioning of the editor and the journalistic staff working under him.
It is well established that the freedom of the press is essentially the freedom of the people to be informed accurately and adequately on all issues, problems, events and developments. In discharge of the editorial functions the editor is supreme and superior even to the owner.
The independence of the newspaper, is essentially the independence of the editor from all internal and external restrictions. Unless the editor
enjoys this freedom he will be unable to discharge his primary duty which is to the people and without such freedom, he can be held responsible in law for all that appears in the newspaper.
In the running of the newspaper, the managerial, administrative or business side of the newspaper has to be kept independent of its editorial side and should not be allowed to encroach upon or interfere with the editorial section. This precaution is to be taken even when the owner and the editor is the same. The proprietor must not allow his business interests and considerations to either dominate or interfere with the newspapers obligation to the people.
That is why there is also an obligation on the management to select a person as the editor who is competent and bears integrity of character and independence of mind.
The successful working of any arrangement in the ultimate analysis would depend on mutual understanding, cooperation and goodwill between the management, the editor, editorial journalist staff and all those who are faithfully working in the production of a paper.
If the co-ordination between the different departments including the editorial is effected by the Brand Management without in any way interfering with the freedom of the editor to include or exclude news or views, the length or details as well as their language and the place where they are to be published, and the prominence with which they should appear,
there may not be much grievance that such co-ordination is in violation of the freedom of the editor. However, if the choice of the editor with regard to selection of material in any manner is sought to be interfered with, it is undoubtedly an unwarranted encroachment on the said freedom.
(ii) The editor under no circumstances can be asked by the proprietor to serve his private interests. To require an editor to cater to the personal interests of the proprietor is not only to demean the office of the editor but also to encroach upon his status as a trustee of the society in respect of the contents of the newspaper. In any country which swears by the freedom and the independence of the press, an attempt by any proprietor of a newspaper to use his editor as his personal agent to promote his private interests and to compel him to act and to write, to serve them is both offensive and reprehensive. Any editor or for that matter any journalist who accepts or condescends to do such jobs not only degrades himself but also the profession of journalism and does not deserve the calling. He betrays the trust the society keeps in him for furnishing fair, objective and comprehensive news and views.
Part B: Guidelines on Specific Issues
a) Norms for observance by the Press in the wake of communal disturbances 1969
Recognising that the Press which enjoys the utmost freedom of expression has a great and vital role to play in educating and moulding public opinion on correct lines in regard to the need for friendly and harmonious relations between the various communities and religious groups forming the fabric of Indian political life and in mirroring the conscience of the best minds of the country to achieve national solidarity, the Press Council of India considers that this object would be defeated, communal peace and harmony disturbed and national unity disrupted if the Press does not strictly adhere to proper norms and standards in reporting on or commenting on matters which bear on communal relations. Without attempting to be exhaustive, the Council considers the following as offending against journalistic proprieties and ethics:
1.Distortion or exaggeration of facts or incidents in relation to communal matters or giving currency to unverified rumours, suspicions or inferences as if they were facts and base their comments on them.
2.Employment of intemperate or unrestrained language in the presentation of news or views, even as a piece of literary flourish or for the purpose of rhetoric or emphasis.
- Encouraging or condoning violence even in the face of provocation as a means of obtaining redress of grievances whether the same be genuine or not.
- While it is the legitimate function of the Press to draw attention to the genuine and legitimate grievances of any community with a view to having the same redressed by all peaceful, legal and legitimate means, it is improper and a breach of journalistic ethics to invent grievances, or to exaggerate real grievances, as these tend to promote communal ill-feeling and accentuate discord.
- Scurrilous and untrue attacks on communities, or individuals, particularly when this is accompanied by charges attributing misconduct to them as due to their being members of a particular community or caste.
- Falsely giving a communal colour to incidents which might occur in which members of different communities happen to be involved.
- Emphasising matters that are not to produce communal hatred or ill-will, or fostering feelings of distrust between communities.
- Publishing alarming news which are in substance untrue or make provocative comments on such news or even otherwise calculated to embitter relations between different communities or regional or linguistic groups.
- Exaggerating actual happenings to achieve sensationalism and publication of news which adversely affect communal harmony with banner headlines or in distinctive types.
- Making disrespectful, derogatory or insulting remarks on or reference to the different religions or faiths or their founders.
Guidelines Issued by the Press Council for Observance by the State Governments and the Media in Relation to Communal Disturbances
i. The State Government should take upon themselves the responsibility of keeping a close watch on the communal writings that might spark off tension, destruction and death, and bring them to the notice of the Council;
ii. The Government may have occasion to take action against erring papers or editors. But it must do so within the bounds of law. If newsmen are arrested, or search and seizure operations become necessary, it would be healthy convention if such developments could be reported to the Press Council within 24 to 48 hours followed by a detailed note within a week;
iii. Under no circumstances must the authorities resort to vindictive measures like cut in advertisements, cancellation of accreditation, cut in newsprint quota and other facilities;
iv. Provocative and sensational headlines should be avoided by the Press;
v. Headings must reflect and justify the master primed under them;
vi. Figures of casualties given in headlines should preferably be on the lower side in case or doubt about their exactness and where the numbers reported by various sources differ widely;
vii. Headings containing allegations made in statements should either identify the person/body making the allegation or, at least, should carry quotation marks;
viii. News reports should be devoid of comments and value judgement;
ix. Presentation of news should not be motivated or guided by partisan feelings, nor should it appear to be so;
x. Language employed in writing the news should be temperate and such as may foster feelings or amity among communities and groups;
xi. Corrections should be promptly published with due prominence and regrets expressed in serious cases; and
xii. It will help a great deal if in-service training is given to journalists for inculcation of all these principles.
Guidelines Issued by the Press Council on January 21-22, 1993 in the Wake of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid Dis
Guidelines for guarding against the commission of the following journalistic improprieties and unethicalities.
- Distortion or exaggeration of facts or incidents in relation to communal matters or giving currency to unverified rumours, suspicions or inferences as if they were facts and base their comment, on them.
- Employment of intemperate or unrestrained language in the presentation of news or views, even as a piece of literary flourish or for the purpose of rhetoric or emphasis.
3.Encouraging or condoning violence even in the face of provocation as a means of obtaining redress of grievance whether the same be genuine or not.
- While it is the legitimate function of the Press to draw attention to the genuine and legitimate grievances of any community with a view to having the same redressed by all peaceful legal and legitimate means, it is improper and a breach of journalistic ethics to invent grievances, or to exaggerate real grievances, as these tend to promote communal ill-feeling and accentuate discord.
- Scurrilous and untrue attacks on communities, or individuals, particularly when this is accompanied by charges attributing misconduct to them as due to their being members of a particular community or caste.
- Falsely giving a communal colour to incidents which might occur in which members of different communities happen to be involved.
- Emphasising matters that are apt to produce communal hatred or ill-will, or fostering feelings of distrust between communities.
- Publishing alarming news which are in substance untrue or make provocative comments on such news or even otherwise calculated to embitter relations between different communities or regional or linguistic groups.
- Exaggerating actual happenings to achieve sensationalism and publication of news which adversely affect communal harmony with banner headlines or distinctive types.
- Making disrespectful, derogatory or insulting remarks on or reference to the different religions or faiths or their founders.
b) Coverage of Handouts of Militants/Terrorists-Guiding Principles 1991-1992
Arising out of a complaint against publication of some ULFA handouts/threat notes by a newspaper of Assam, the Press Council has enunciated some general principles for the guidance of the press. These are in tune with the recommendations of the Press Council of India Report on Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, adopted by the Press Council in January, 1991.
These guiding principles considered by the Council in September 1992, are as follows:
Dictates or “Press Notes” commanding newspapers to publish them, under duress or threats of dire consequence, emanating from elements wedded to violence, constitute “the gravest assault on the freedom of the Press which is one of the surest guarantors of a democratic and plural society”. Generally, such dictates or Notes are not newsworthy per se. Their publication tends to demoralise the public and to affect adversely public, police and security. The publication not only compromises the freedom and independence of the newspaper concerned, but also constitutes an offence against the standards of journalistic ethics and professional responsibility.
This is not to say that if there is anything newsworthy in a “‘Press Note” emanating from any source, it should be blacked-out altogether, because ‘self-censorship’ may be “no less dangerous for being insidious”. The essential point is that editors must exercise due caution and circumspection in considering the dissemination of such Press Notes. If the whole of the Note is not pernicious, then it may be edited, its objectionable portions removed and language toned down so that whatever is true newsworthy gets disseminated in a balanced manner. However, where the “news” and the objectionable portions are inextricably mixed up, violating the entire warp and woof of the “Press Note”, it will be prudent to withhold its publication altogether.
This is not an easy way out, as the media’s experience of militancy in Punjab has amply demonstrated. More than 50 media personnel have lost their lives in terrorist attacks and ignoring a militant press note can lead and has often led, to death of innocent and defenceless media persons. Any show of editorial defence and courage is likely to be seen by defenceless employees of newspapers as exposing them to avoidable dangers. Editors and proprietors under these circumstances have little room for manoeuvres.
A workable expedient that proved useful in Punjab, is for the government to be in close touch with newspapers so that objectionable and anti-national press notes from groups swearing by violence could be removed from newspapers before publication. Even though this may be seen as a form of pre-censorship, this arrangement saved lives and spared newspapers from difficult and delicate choices.
There is however a danger of a wilful administration using this process to muzzle the press and misuse its authority under the law to define “objectionable material” on its own terms. Strict procedures must therefore be laid down. Orders passed under any legislation in this regard from time to time in relation to publication of allegedly “objectionable matter” should be subjected to some kind of appellate review so as to curb any propensity to arbitrary action. The principal legislation and rules made thereunder should also be periodically reviewed in the light of changing circumstances. These safeguards should be built into all such press legislation.
C) “AIDS AND THE MEDIA”
The mass media should help set an agenda for the country to fight the AIDS pandemic in co-ordination with the Government, the medical profession and the voluntary agencies. So far, the media in India have treated AIDS more as news than as a growing menace and scourge threatening both human lives and dignity.
An exploratory content-analysis study conducted by the Operations Research Group during 1989-90 revealed the inadequacy of print media coverage on AIDS in India. The coverage of prominent urban dailies focussed more on clinical diagnostic research on AIDS in western countries, and little on the AIDS problem in India and its social implications. There were very few independent reports on AIDS and the sources of most stories were international agencies. Further, most stories were located in inside pages or in supplements, and, content-wise were superficial in nature. Since the disclosures of the survey, until 1992, the quality and quantity of newspaper coverage on AIDS in India has not changed much while the relative quantity of AIDS coverage is on the rise, and while a greater recognition exists on the part of the print media about the problem of AIDS in India, newspapers are to quote experts, still “reactive” rather than “proactive”.
DO’s and DON’Ts
From sporadic news, AIDS must become a campaign target for our mass media with the following components of Do’s and Don’ts:
*Media must inform and educate the people, not alarm or scare them. The emphasis must be on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can be prevented from going into unaffected humans. AIDS takes around 10 years to develop and HIV is a virus which does not survive for long outside a body. Thus it is not spread by casual contact, hugging or kissing or through food or water or through insects.
- Media must hammer home the point that AIDS through sexual transmission or blood infection can be prevented. Minimum precaution of use of condoms in sex, and sterilisation of skin-piercing instruments and their prompt disposal after use.
*Media must report every case pertaining to AIDS be it positive or negative. There must be constant liaison between the media and the medical profession to report on latest developments and research findings.
*Media must highlight and crusade against such practice as quarantine, isolation and ostracism of AIDS patients. Besides being an affront to human dignity, those practices will not help minimise AIDS infection, and are injurious to public health as: “they give a false sense of security to people outside the stigmatised group that the treat of infection has been removed and the need for precaution minimised. Also, such practices will drive the AIDS problem underground and make the campaign against the scourge more difficult.
Community education, using all the latest expertise of mass education and behavioural scientists and media experts, has to play a crucial role in spreading the message about preventing this dreaded infection. Option builders of the society (political and religious leaders, movie and sports personalities, other famous persons) must take the leadership in educating the public about AIDS and how to avoid contacting this infection. Innovative use of media and a positive reporting attitude of media will go a long way in making AIDS awareness campaign a success.
- Media must force the authorities to impose rigorous blood-testing norms on prostitutes and professional women and issue periodical warning to the public about areas where the incidence of AIDS had high probability.
- Media must help the authorities in eliminating commercial blood collection and pre-testing of all blood donors for HIV and other diseases.
*Media must as a role respect the right to privacy of AIDS patients and must not subject them to needless exposure and social stigma.
*Every mass medium must observe the terms of the final document of the international consultation of AIDS and human rights, and promptly report the violation of such rights protecting the basic human rights to life and liberty, privacy and freedom of movement.
d) Financial Journalism – 1996
The Press Council of India has counselled reporters/financial journalists/newspaper establishments to refrain from receiving any gifts/ grants/concessions/facilities, etc., either in cash or kind which are likely to compromise free and unbiased reporting on financial matters.
- The Council in its Report has observed that the financial journalists today enjoy considerable influence over readers’ minds and, therefore, they owe it to them to present a balanced and objective view of the financial dealings, status and prospects of a company. It observed that some companies are given excessive news coverage in the newspapers/magazines because they have issued advertisements to that print media. Sometimes, adverse reports are published of those companies which do not give advertisements to the newspapers or magazines. Again, when a media is not happy with any company/ management for whatever reason, the negative aspects of the company are highlighted, while in the reverse situation, no negative aspects are brought to light. Some companies are also known to give gifts, loans, discounts, preferential shares, etc., to certain financial journalists to receive favourable and positive reports of the companies. At the same time, there is no mechanism for investors’ education or for raising public opinion against such unhealthy practices.
3. The Council feeling concerned over the malpractice in the Corporate Sector and after holding detailed deliberations and discussions with the representatives of financial institutions and journalists, has recommended the guidelines enumerated below for observance by the financial journalists:
1) The financial journalists should not accept gifts, loans, trips, discounts, preferential shares or other considerations which compromise or are likely to compromise his position.
2) It should be mentioned prominently in the report about any company that the report is based on information given by the company or the financial sponsors of the company.
3)When the trips are sponsored for visiting establishments of a company, the author of the report who has availed of the trip must state invariably that the visit was sponsored by the company concerned and that it had also extended the hospitality as the case may be.
4) No matter related to the company should be published without verifying the facts from the company and the source of such report should also be disclosed.
5) A reporter who exposes a scam or brings out a report for promotion of a good project should be encouraged and awarded.
6) A journalist who has financial interests such as share holdings, stock holdings, etc., in a company, should not report on that company.
7) The journalist should not use for his own benefit or for the benefit of his relations and friends, information received by him in advance for publication.
8) No newspaper owner, editor or anybody connected with a newspaper should use his relations with the newspaper to promote his other business interests.
9) Whenever there is an indictment of a particular advertising agency or advertiser by the Advertising Council of India, the newspaper in which the advertisement was published must publish the news of indictment prominently.
e) Election Reporting-1996
i) General Election is a very important feature of our democracy and it is imperative that the media transmits to the electorate fair and objective reports of the election campaign by the contesting parties. Freedom of the Press depends to a large measure on the Press itself behaving with a sense of responsibility. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that the media adheres to this principle of fair and objective reporting of the election campaign.
The Press Council has, therefore, formulated the following guidelines to the media for observance during elections:
- It will be the duty of the Press to give objective reports about elections and the candidates. The newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate/party or incident during the elections. In practice, two or three closely contesting candidates attract all the media attention. While reporting on the actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her opponent.
- Election campaign along communal or caste lines is banned under the election rules. Hence, the Press should eschew reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language.
- The Press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of any candidate or his candidature, to prejudice the prospects of that candidate in the elections. The Press shall not publish unverified allegations against any candidate/party.
- The Press shall not accept any kind of inducement, financial or otherwise, to project a candidate/party. It shall not accept hospitality or other facilities offered to them by or on behalf of any candidate/party.
5.The Press is not expected to indulge in canvassing of a particular candidate/party. If it does, it shall allow the right of reply to the other candidate/party.
- The Press shall not accept/publish any advertisement at the cost of public exchequer regarding achievements of a party/ government in power.
- The Press shall observe all the directions/orders/instructions of the Election Commission/Returning Officers or Chief Electoral Officer issued from time to time.
ii) Guidelines on ‘Pre-poll’ and ‘Exit-polls’ Survey-1996
The Press Council of India having considered the question of desirability or otherwise of publication of findings of pre-poll surveys and the purpose served by them, is of the view that the newspapers should not allow their forum to be used for distortions and manipulations of the elections and should not allow themselves to be exploited by the interested parties.
The Press Council, therefore, advises that in view of the crucial position occupied by the electoral process in a representative democracy like ours, the newspapers should be on guard against their precious forum being used for distortions and manipulations of the elections. This has become necessary to emphasize today since the print media is sought to be increasingly exploited by the interested individuals and groups to misguide and mislead the unwary voters by subtle and not so subtle propaganda on casteist, religious and ethnic basis as well as by the use of sophisticated means like the alleged pre-poll surveys. While the communal and seditious propaganda is not difficult to detect in many cases, the interested use of the pre-poll survey, sometimes deliberately planted, is not so easy to uncover. The Press Council, therefore, suggests that whenever the newspapers publish pre-poll surveys, they should take care to preface them conspicuously by indicating the institutions which have carried such surveys, the individuals and organisations which have commissioned the surveys, the size and nature of sample selected, the method of selection of the sample for the findings and the possible margin of error in the findings.
- Further in the event of staggered poll dates, the media is seen to carry exit-poll surveys of the polls already held. This is likely to influence the voters where the polling is yet to commence. With a view to ensure that the electoral process is kept pure and the voters’ minds are not influenced by any external factors, it is necessary that the media does not publish the exit-poll surveys till the last poll is held.
- The Press Council, therefore, requests the Press to abide by the following guideline in respect of the exit polls:
No newspaper shall publish exit-poll surveys, however, genuine they may be, till the last of the polls is over.
f) ALLOTMENT OF HOUSES TO JOURNALISTS -1996
i) Pursuant to the request made to the Press Council of India by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide its order dated 19/7/96, the office of the Press Council convened separate meetings on various days with the officials of the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment (MUAE) and the Press Information Bureau (PIB) in the Ministry of Information; (ii) the representative of the Joint Action Group of Journalists and News Cameramen which had agitated against the retention of the press pool accommodation by some of the present journalist-allottees; and (iii) the journalist occupants. The Council also received representations and suggestions from individual journalists, including journalist occupants. Some of the occupant and non-occupant journalists also met the Chairman of the Council individually and made representation on behalf of the journalists and gave suggestions.
It was noted that the accommodation was given to the journalists since 1957 according to certain guidelines. Those guidelines were revised from time to time and the latest guidelines are of December 1991. The Council also had the benefit of the draft of a further revision of the guidelines suggested by the P.I.B. to the M.U.A.E.
It was noted that originally, the system of temporarily alloting a fixed number of apartments for journalists started when Shri Sardar Patel was the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. In those days, the income of Indian journalists was such that most of them could hardly afford to stay in New Delhi. While many of the new journalists have to pay for high rent private flats, there is a need for the older journalists to vacate these accommodations in favour of the younger ones with lesser income.
It was further noted that the whole object of giving temporary accommodation to the journalists was to accommodate for some time those journalists who came from outside Delhi. With that purpose, the government accommodation was being made available to the journalists for a limited purpose of three years and during this period they were expected to find accommodation for themselves and to vacate the government accommodation. For this purpose again, they were during this period of occupation, charged a nominal rent as charged to government servants.
It was also noted that it was not the intention of the government to create any relationship whatsoever between itself and the occupant journalist. The accommodation was to be given as a facility by way of transit accommodation till the journalist found a suitable accommodation for himself/herself within this stipulated period.
This is also borne out by the fact that the Second Press Commission in Chapter V. para 22 of its Report, had recommended that the “Press should be able to resist not only external pressure but also inducements which would undermine independence from within. Journalist should be on guard against temptation to enjoy favours, whether from government authorities, employers, advertisers or others. Further Chapter VIII, para 49, it recommended that “no further housing facility should be provided to the journalists and existing allotment of the government accommodation in the National Capital and the States should be charged for at non subsidised rates and phased out as the present occupants leave”. The Action Taken Report of the Central Government on the Report of the Second Press Commission submitted to the Parliament record be provided to journalists and in respect of the existing allotments, the rent should be charged at non subsidised rates. This was nearly a decade ago. However, the allotment continued.
Taking into consideration all the above facts:
Considering the developments such as that many journalists have continued to occupy the accommodation as if it was given to them permanently since there was no clear stipulation with regard to the duration of occupation, in their allotment orders:
Considering the fact that at present there are only 120 units available for allotment to the journalists under the above facility and that there are a large number of needy journalists in the waiting list:
Considering the fact that the prices and rents of the premises are at present at a higher level:
Considering the present level of income of journalists:
And considering also the fact that there is no reason why the media establishments which are making profits should not provide housing facility for their journalists/news cameramen or pay sufficient house rent in lieu thereof:
The following guidelines for the allotment of accommodation to the accredited correspondents and news-cameramen are suggested:
1. The accommodation will be given by the government from the press pool only to the accredited journalists and news cameramen. Accredited journalists/news cameramen will mean journalists/news cameramen accredited by the Central Press Accreditation Committee. They will not include: (I) those accredited journalists/news cameramen whose total emoluments exclusive of the conveyance allowance exceed Rs. 15000/-p.m.(II) accredited editors or editor-cum-correspondents: (III) Freelance journalists: (IV) Journalists engaged on control basis : and (V) accredited correspondents who are not Indian National and /or who do not represent the Indian Media.
2. He/She does not own a house or flat, either as an owner or as a holder of power of attorney, in his/her own name or in the name of the family member or dependent in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, at the time of the allotment of accommodation from the pool.
i) The term ‘family’ in this context shall have the same meaning as defined in Government of India Supplementary Rule 2.
ii)‘The National Capital Territory of Delhi’ in this context shall besides Delhi, include municipal limits of Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad, Bahadurgarh and Sahibabad.
iii) The transfer of ownership of spouse/sons/daughter and/or its sale to third party within a period of five years prior to the date of application/allotment, shall render the applicant ineligible for pool accommodation.
1.The accommodation will be allotted by a Screening Committee (Composition of which is given in para 17) according to seniority and pay limit as mentioned below:
The accredited journalists will be divided in two categories namely: (1) those who are drawing income upto Rs. 7000/- p.m. and (ii) those drawing income between Rs. 7,001/- to Rs. 15,000/- p.m. The above mentioned limit of emoluments would vary depending upon the recommendations of the Wage Boards of the pay-scale for the category 1A of the working journalists as defined in the Bachawat Award.
The monthly income would mean emoluments excluding conveyance allowance.
Two separate lists namely, ‘List I’ and ‘List II’, of the above categories (i) and (ii) of the journalists respectively would be prepared on the basis of the aforesaid income criteria and according to the seniority on the basis of the date of application for the accommodation.
2 Depending upon the availability, the accommodation will first be given to those in List I according to the seniority. If after satisfying the needs of all the journalists in List I, more units of accommodation are available, they would be given according to seniority to the journalists in List II.
3 The journalists in List I may occupy the accommodation so given for a maximum period of five years but no longer.
Those in List II may occupy the accommodation so given for a maximum period of three years but no longer.
The allottee shall not be eligible for allotment of accommodation from the pool more than once.
4. The allottee shall pay the Government every month the amount of HRA that the allottee receives from his/her employer in addition to the license fee fixed under the Government of India. * Director of Estates, New Delhi, Office Memorandum No. 18011/3/95-Pol-III dated 2.7.96. It shall be his/her responsibility to pay all sums due as aforesaid to the government by the 10th of every month.. Failure to pay the dues as aforesaid shall make him/her liable to be evicted forthwith.
5. Every allottee shall, be 31st March every year, intimate to the Directorate of Estate, Ministry of U.A. & E the details of his emoluments including basis pay, all allowances, including the HRA and particulars of his/her family member/dependent or self having acquired as a holder of power of attorney or otherwise, any accommodation in the National Capital Territory as defined above.
6. The allottee shall vacate the accommodation within 30 days of the expiry of the period of allotment.
Disqualifications to remain in occupation
7. The allotted who acquires accommodation whether as a holder of power of attorney or otherwise in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse/family members/dependants, shall immediately but not later than 30 days inform the Directorate of Estate about such acquisition and shall also vacate the government accommodation within a period of two months of the acquisition of the accommodation.
- The allottee, who voluntarily changes or voluntarily or compulsorily ceased to be in the employment of a media organisation for whatever reason and whose accreditation has not been changed to the new media unit, shall no longer be entitled to retain the government and shall vacate the same within a period of six months from the date of change of the employment.
9. The allottee who has, for any other reasons, will become ineligible for pool accommodation as per these guidelines, shall become liable to be evicted under the Public Premises Act after the expiry of the stipulated grace period laid down herein.
10. If the allottee fails to vacate the Government accommodation allotted to him/her as mentioned in clause 8-11 above, he/she shall be liable to be evicted from the same under the Public Premises Act and shall also be liable to pay *damages as prescribed in the Government of India, Directorate of Estate, New Delhi Office Memorandum No. 18011/3/92-Pol. III dated 30.5.1995 for the period of unauthorised occupation of the premises.
Procedure for allotment of accommodation
11. The government shall create a pool for media for the Delhi based accredited correspondents and news cameramen, out of the Central pool of residential accommodation in Delhi. The number of units to be allotted shall be such as may be fixed by the Government in the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment from time to time. At present there are 120 units in the media pool.
12. The number of units under the media pool shall remain earmarked for the representatives of the media.
13. The accommodation in the media pool would be of the types IV Special at the maximum.
14. Such Delhi-based accredited journalists/news cameramen, as are desirous of government accommodation from the media pool, shall make an application for the same to the Principal Information Officer or the Press Information Bureau in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The application shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating the following particulars:
(a)His/her monthly income as defined in Clause 3 above;
(b)The amount of HRA received by him/her from his/her employer.
(c)Whether he/she has accommodation either as a holder of Power of Attorney of otherwise in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse/family members/dependants within the National Capital Territory (NCT) as defined in Note (ii) to clause 2 and;
d) Whether he/she has transferred any such residential accommodation whether on Power of Attorney or otherwise to his/her spouse or family member or dependent or to any third party within the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and if so, when.
15. The application for allotment of accommodation out of the media pool shall be processed by a Screening Committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and shall consist of the Principal Information Officer of the Press Information Bureau and the Joint Secretary/Additional Secretary (Estate) and Director of Estate, Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment as its ex-officio members and six accredited journalists to be nominated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- The Screening Committee shall meet at least twice a year. The applications for allotment of accommodation shall be disposed of by the Committee within a period of not more than two months from their receipt.
- There shall be no discretionary quota for allotment out of the media pool.
18. Such allottees as are present in occupation of houses for a period of more than three/five years, as the case may be, and/or have become ineligible on account of any other reason(s) as per these guidelines, shall become liable to vacate the accommodation as follows:
i) Those who are in regular employment *or those who are freelance journalists and not employed on contract-basis and have become ineligible only on account of the expiry of the stipulated period of occupation on the date of coming into operation of these guidelines ……..shall become liable to be evicted within a period of three years from the date of coming into operation of these guidelines.
ii) those employed on contract basis and the freelance journalists who become ineligible to occupy government accommodation by virtue of these guidelines shall become liable to be evicted within a period of two years from the date of coming into these guidelines.
iii) All others who become ineligible to occupy government accommodation on account of any other reason(s) whether in addition to the expiry of the stipulated period of occupation or otherwise, as per these guidelines, shall become liable to be evicted within a period of one year from the date of coming into operation of these guidelines.
During the period of occupation of Government accommodation as in sub-clause (i) to (iii) above, the occupants other than freelance journalists, shall pay license fee plus HRA as per clause (6) or the damages as per clause (12) above. The freelance journalist shall pay only license fee for the period of occupation of the accommodation in terms of *Government of India, Directorate of Estate, New Delhi; Office Memorandum No. 18011/3/95-Pol III dated 2.7.1996.
After the discussions in the Council meeting held on 25.9.96, the Chairman, Press Council of India suggested the following modification in the guidelines:
1. The maximum total emoluments for entitlement of government accommodation is prescribed at present as Rs. 15,000/- per annum in para 3 of the ‘Eligibility Criteria’. It may be added there that the above mentioned limit of emoluments would vary depending upon the recommendations of the Wage Boards of the pay-scale for category 1A of the Wage Boards of the pay-scale for category 1A of the working journalists as defined in the Bachawat Award.
Some members of the Council suggested the following modifications:
1. A uniform period of five years may be given for vacating the government premises to all journalists whether they are in regular employment contract employment or whether they are freelance journalists and to that extent clauses (i) and (ii) of para 20 of the guidelines may stand modified. However, the period for vacating the government accommodation by those who have other accommodation in Delhi will remain unchanged.
2. A uniform tenure of five years for occupation of government accommodation once it is allotted, may be given to all the allottees whether the employees fall in list I or list II as mentioned in para 3 under the ‘Eligibility Criteria’.
These were forwarded to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 10.7.1996 and were incorporated in the Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated. 19.7.1996.
g) GUIDELINES ON UNDUE FAVOURS TO JOURNALISTS-1998
The power of the press has prompted the policemen through the ages to try to cultivate and curry its favours through overt, and more often than not, covert means.
It is only if the press accepts its responsibility of serving the public interest as an independent observer, informer and educator of people as a watchdog of the interest of the society that it can discharge its true role as a mass communicator. Ultimately the strength of the moral fabric of the press itself shall decide whether or not to be swayed by the inducements and enticements thrown in its way by those in power. The media persons must realise that the burden of whether favours and facilities they receive, whether they are showered on them by the public or the private organisations or the individuals in authority, is ultimate borne by the people. The private organisations recover their costs by adding to the cost of the products and services they sell. The ultimate allegiance of the press has therefore to be of the people and not to immediate benefactors.
To distinguish between the facilities made available to the members of the fourth estate for due discharge of their professional duties and favours granted with a view too influence them, is not always easy. However, the simple and intelligible demarcation may be a uniform profferment of help to journalists in discharge of their professional duties made within the parameters of well laid down policies, without discrimination from person to person constitutes facility but when it is restricted to any or some individuals or establishments, it becomes a favour.
Based on the report given out by the Council in January 1998 in favour extended to journalists by various authorities over the period 1985 to 1995, the Council has framed the following guidelines for future guidance:
The Government is not obliged to provide accommodation to the journalists as it is the responsibility of the newspaper establishment to provide accommodation to their employees. Whenever such a facility is provided to the journalists by the authorities it should be gradually phased out.
Land allotments at concessional rates to the newspaper establishment /individuals for the purpose of installing printing presses should not be a source of undue/illegal enrichment of the allottees. Therefore, the proposal of allotment of land to newspaper establishment/individuals should be scrutinized by the authorities very carefully. No land should be allotted to newspaper establishments/individuals at concessional rates if the land is proposed to be put to commercial use as well along with its use for press purpose by the allottees.
2. Allotment of Shares in Companies:
The shares allotted at a special price or given under any quota is a favour.
3. Bus Travel/Rail Travel/Transport:
This is a favour so far as big and medium newspapers are concerned. Further the journalists attached to the newspapers which are in profit have no justification for availing free bus/rail/transport facility. Such costs must be borne by the concerned newspaper. However, in the case of small newspaper this may constitute a facility.
- Foreign travel:
Extending the facility of air travel by companies, corporations and airlines is an inducement to write favourably about their products and services. As regards official foreign tours undertaken by the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister or any other Minister, only eligible journalist should be nominated for coverage once the newspaper has been selected on the basis of the criteria laid down. The management personnel of the newspapers should not be selected/ nominated for coverage of such tours.
5. Free Air Tickets by Domestic Travel Airlines and Others:
It induces journalists to write favourable reports to commercially promote the airlines and the commercial enterprise offering such tickets and should not be accepted by the journalists.
- Cash Disbursement from Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund:
Disbursement of money from the Discretionary Fund of the Chief Minister other than by way of relief to the indignant and helpless journalists encourage unfaithfulness to the mission of journalism and promotes corrupt practices. This could be discouraged by the Chief Ministers.
- Cash Disbursement Financial Assistance:
The financial assistance, even if given for medical treatment, constitute a favour, unless, medical aid is given under a clear cut policy uniformly applicable to the destitutes or sick persons who cannot afford the medical treatment, and the journalists happens to be one of such beneficiaries. Extending CGHS facility to journalists is illogical since this facility to its employees is the responsibility of the newspaper establishments and should be provided by the authorities.
8-9. Funds for media centres and grants to journalists associations is favour and should be discontinued, unless it is given for promoting the journalistic skills.
10. Gift cheques including those given by the advertisement agencies for publication of material relating to their clients or otherwise is a favour and deserve outright condemnation. The journalists should not accept them.
11. Gifts in any form, irrespective of their value, are to be condemned.
12. Free parking is a favour, if journalist use this facility for the purpose other than his professional work.
13. Guest Hospitality
The working journalists, as a rule should not be treated as State Guests. However, when Press teams are invited to a place to discharge their professional duties, making due arrangements for them would be an exception. The stay in government guest houses by accredited journalists, is permissible if it is for discharging professional duties.
14. Import of duty free cameras and computers:
It is the duty of the newspaper establishment to provide cameras/computers to its personnel. Allowing duty free cameras and computers to a particular class of persons by the Government is a favour. However, this facility may be extended to the accredited freelance journalists, small newspapers, provided it is not misused.
15. Insurance Premium:
It is not for the governments to pay premium of the insurance of the journalists. The newspaper establishments or the individual concerned should make the payment of the same.
16. Giving jobs to journalist’s relatives, for considerations, and other than on merits is an outright attempt to induce and should be curbed.
17. The grant of loans within the ambit of a policy already laid down for all citizens is permissible. But when the loan is given only to journalists or at reduced rates of interests or when the interest due or the principal amount is waived/written off/condoned, such a practice amounts to undue favour and should be stopped.
18. Nomination on Committees:
In some states the journalists are nominated on some organisations and institutions like Public Service Commission and are also given the status of State Minister or Cabinet Minister, which is a wrong practice. Except for nomination by professional organisations on Committees, which have a quota to represent the various professions, this practice constitutes a favour and should be stopped.
19. Allotting PCO/Fax/Phone booth or centre to a journalist is a favour. This practice should be stopped.
20. Pensionary benefits:
Since the media is not part of the government, the benefit given only to media persons constitutes a favour when extended by the government.
21. Press Clubs-Donation of Funds:
This practice is prevalent all over the country and funds are being donated lavishly by Chief Ministers/Ministers, political leaders, companies and corporations not only to genuine Press Clubs but also to the Press Clubs of dubious nature. In the latter case it constitutes an attempt to induce the journalists to give favourable reports about the donors. This should be stopped.
The practice of giving spurious awards has to be curbed. There are instances of sale of awards and prizes by the racketeers making money out of it. Not only the racketeers but the awardees often contribute towards the value of the prize.
23. Allotment of shops to persons for reasons of their position as journalist is a clear cut favour and should be stopped forthwith.
24. The grant of Accreditation Cards, Government and Public Authority Advertisements according to rules, facility during election meeting, expenses for journalistic conventions, seminars, etc. providing press rooms, inviting press parties, giving publication material, providing for training of journalists do not constitute favours. They are essential facilities offered to journalists for the discharge of their professional duties.
h) RIGHT TO PRIVACY – PUBLIC FIGURES AND THE PRESS-1998
The issue has been under heated debate at both national and international level. It appears certain that right to privacy cannot be absolute, yet the media itself has to show self-restraint, and respect the privacy of the public figures. Where there is clash between the public person’s privacy and public’s right to know about his personal conduct, activities, habits and traits of character, impinging upon or having a bearing on public interest, the former must yield to the latter.
It will, however, be necessary to bear that what is of ‘interest to the public’ is not synonymous with ‘public interest’ and that must be the ultimate test that the journalists must themselves apply in the circumstances of each individual case.
Drawing out of the above, the Council draws up the following guidelines:
“Right to privacy is an inviolable human right. However, the degree of privacy differs from person to person and from situation to situation. The public persons who function under public gaze as an emissary/representative of the public cannot expect to be afforded the same degree of privacy as a private person. His acts and conduct as are of public interest (‘public interest’ being distinct and separate from ‘of interest to the public’) even if conducted in private may be brought to public knowledge through the medium of the press. The press has, however, a corresponding duty to ensure that the informations about such acts and conduct of public interest of the public person is obtained through fair means, is properly verified and then reported accurately. For obtaining the information in respect of acts done or conducted away from public gaze, the press is not expected to use surveillance devices. For obtaining information about private talks and discussions, while the press is expected not to badger the public persons, the public persons are also expected to bring more openness in their functioning and co-operate with the press in its duty of informing the public about the acts of their representatives.”
The above broad guidelines emulated in true spirit are certain to strike a balance between the right of the press to have access to information and the public persons’ right to privacy.
Part C – Laws Relating to the Press
1. Constitution of India
i) Art. 19(1)(a) read with Art. 19(2) (Freedom of speech and expression)
ii) Art. 361-A (Protection of publication of proceedings of Parliament and State Legislature)
2. Press Laws/Acts
i) Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
ii) Punjab Special Powers (Press) Act, 1956.
iii) The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867
iv) The Dramatic Performances Act, 1876
v) The Indian Telegraph Act, 1898
vi) The (Indian) Post Office Act,1898
vii) The Police (Incitement of Disaffection) Act, 1922
viii) Official Secrets Act, 1923 (Act No. 1923)
ix) The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use)Act, 1950
x) Representation of the People Act, 1951
xi) The Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries)Act, 1954
xii) The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 (No. 21 of 1954)
xiii) The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees(Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
xiv) The Prize Competitions Act, 1955 (Act No. 42 of 1955)
xv) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
xvi) The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956
xvii) The Copyright Act, 1957.
xviii) Children Act, 1960
xix) Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961 as amended in 1990.
xx) Atomic Energy Act, 1962
xxi) Customs Act, 1962
xxii) The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
xxiii) The Civil Defence Act, 1968
xxiv) The Contempt of Courts Act,1971
xxv) The Press Council Act, 1978
xxvi) The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978
xxvi) National Security Act, 1980
(xxvii) Right to Information Act,2003
3. Relevant Provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860
a) Sec. 124-Assaulting President, Governor etc. with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power.
b) Sec. 153A-Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
c) Sec. 153B-Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration.
d) Sec. 171G-False statement in connection with an election.
e) Sec.228-Intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding.
228(a) Disclosure of identity of the victim of offences, u/s 376, 376-A, 376-B, 376-C or 376-D.
f) Sec. 292 Sale etc. of obscene books etc.
g) Sec 293 Sale etc. of obscene objects to young person.
h) Sec. 294A-Keeping lottery office.
i) Sec. 295A-Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
j) Sec. 299 Culpable homicide.
k) Sec. 499 Defamation.
1) Sec. 500 Punishment for Defamation.
m) Sec. 501 Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory matter.
n) Sec. 502 Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory substance.
(i) Statements conducing to public mischief.
(ii) Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.
(iii) Offence under sub-section (2) committed in place of worship.
4. Relevant Provisions of Cr. P.C., 1973 (Act No. lI of 1974)
a) Sec. 91 -Power to take bond for appearance.
b) Sec. 93 -Summons and warrants of arrest.
c) Sec. 95 -Procedure as to letters and telegraphs.
d) Sec. 96 -When search warrants may be issued.
e) Sec. 108 Security for good behaviour from persons disseminating seditious matters.
f) Sec. 144 Power to issue orders absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger
g) Sec. 177 to 187 Place of inquiry or trial.
h) Section 195 Prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of servants.
i) Sec. 199 prosecution for adultery or enticing a married women.
j) Sec. 327 Power to summon another set of jurors.
k) Sec. 340 Right of person against whom proceedings are instituted to be defended and his competency to be a witness.
1) Sec. 345 Compounding offences.
m) Sec. 349 Procedure when Magistrate cannot pass sentence sufficiently severe.
n) Sec. 350-Conviction or commitment on evidence partly recorded by one Magistrate and partly by another.
o) Sec 351-Detention of offenders attending court.
Part D- Press Council ‘s
Powers, Practice and Procedures
The Press Council of India was first set up in the year 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission with the object of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India. The present Council functions under the Press Council Act, 1978. It is a statutory, quasi judicial authority functioning as a watchdog of the press, for the press and by the press. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.
The Press Council is headed by a Chairman, who has by convention, been a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The Council consists of 28 other members of whom 20 represent the press and are nominated by the press organisations/news agencies recognised and notified by the Council as all India bodies of categories such as editors, working journalists and owners
and managers of newspaper and news agencies, five members are nominated from the two Houses of Parliament and three represent cultural, literary and legal fields as nominees of the Sahitya Academy, University Grants Commission and the Bar Council of India. The members serve on the Council for a term of three years. No member may serve on the Council for more than two terms.
The Council is funded by the revenue collected by it as fee levied on the registered newspapers in the country on the basis of their circulation. No fee is levied on newspapers with circulation less than 5000 copies. The deficit is made good by way of grant by the Central Government.
A person with a complaint against a newspaper, for any publication, or non-publication of a material, which he finds objectionable and which effects him personally, he should first take it up with the editor or other authorised representative of the publication concerned.
If the complaint is not resolved to satisfaction, he may refer it to the Press Council of India. The complaint must be specific and in writing and should be lodged within two months of the publication of impugned news item in case of dailies and weeklies and four months in all other cases, along with the original/Photostat copy of the impugned clipping (English translation, if the matter is in a language other than Hindi). It must state in what manner the publication/non publication of the matter is objectionable within the meaning of the Press Council Act, 1978 enclose a copy of the letter to the editor, pointing out why the matter is objectionable. His reply thereto or published rejoinder, if any, may also be attached to it. Declaration stating that the subject matter of the complainant is not pending in any court of law is also required to be filed.
On receipt of a complaint made to it or otherwise, if the Council is prima facie satisfied that the matter discloses sufficient ground for inquiry, it issues show cause notice to the respondents and then considers the matter through its Inquiry Committee on the basis of written and oral evidence tendered before it. Appearance before the committee is not mandatory and a complaint may be processed on the basis of the written documents on record. If on inquiry, the Council has reason to believe that the respondent newspaper has violated journalistic norms, the Council, keeping in view the gravity of the misconduct committed by the newspaper, warns, admonishes or censures the newspaper or disapproves the conduct of the editor or the journalist as the case may be. It may also direct the respondent newspaper to publish the contradiction of the complainant or a gist of the Council’s decision in its forthcoming issue.
If a newspaper or journalist is aggrieved by any action or inaction of any authority that may impinge on the freedom of the press, he can also file a complaint with the Council. The aggrieved newspaper or journalist may inform the Council about the possible reason for the action/inaction of the authorities against him i.e. if it is a reprisal measure taken by the authorities due to critical writings or as a result of the policy that may effect the freedom of the press (supporting documents, with English translation if they are in a language other than Hindi should be filed). Declaration regarding the non pendency of the subject matter of the complaint in any court of law is also necessary.
On being prima-facie satisfied of the admissibility of a complaint, the response of the authorities is called for and inquiry conducted through the inquiry committee of the Council. When the Council upholds the complaint of the aggrieved newspaper/journalist, the Council directs the concerned government to take appropriate steps, to redress the grievance of the complainant or records in observations regarding the conduct of that authority vis-à-vis the freedom of the press.
Address for complaints or inquiries: –
Press Council of India, Soochna Bhawan,
8, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
Phone: 24368726, 24366403
Fax: 011-24366745 (Extn. 224)
(Relevant extracts of Sections 13,14 and 15 of Press Council Act, 1978 and Regulation 3,5,6,9,10,13 and 14 of Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) Regulations 1979 follow):
Press Council Act, 1978
Objects and Functions of the Council
13.(1) The objects of the Council shall be to preserve the freedom of the Press and to maintain and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India.
The Council may, in furtherance of its objects, perform the following functions, namely:
(a) to help newspapers and news agencies to maintain their independence;
(b) to build up a code of conduct for newspapers, news agencies and journalists in accordance with high professional standards;
(c) to ensure on the part of newspapers, news agencies and journalists, the maintenance of high standards of public taste and foster a due sense of both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship;
(d) to encourage the growth of a sense of responsibility and public service among all those engaged in the profession of journalism;
(e) to keep under review any development likely to restrict the supply and dissemination of news of public interest and importance;
(f) to keep under review cases of assistance received by any newspaper or news agency in India from any foreign source including such cases as are referred to it by the Central Government or are brought to its notice by an individual, association or persons or any other organisation. Provided that nothing in this clause shall preclude the Central Government from dealing with any case of assistance received by a newspaper or news agency in India from any foreign source in any other manner it thinks fit;
(g)to undertake studies of foreign newspapers, including those brought out by any embassy or other representative in India of a foreign State, their circulation and impact.
5 of 1908
Explanation- For the purposes of this clause the expression “Foreign State” has the meaning assigned to it in Section 87-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908;
(h)To promote a proper functional relationship among all classes of persons engaged in the production or publication of newspapers or in news agencies.
14 of 1947
Provided that nothing in this clause shall be deemed to confer on the Council any functions in regard to disputes to which the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, applies;
(i)to concern itself with developments such as concentration of or other aspects of ownership of newspapers and news agencies which may affect the independence of the Press;
(j)to undertake such studies as may be entrusted to the Council and to express its opinion in regard to any matter referred to it by the Central Government;
(k)to do such other acts as may be incidental or conducive to the discharge of the above functions.
Power to Censure
14(1) Where, on receipt of a complaint made to it or otherwise, the Council has reason to believe that a newspaper or news agency has offended against the standards of journalistic ethics or public taste or that an editor or working journalist has committed any professional misconduct, the Council may, after giving the newspaper, or news agency, the editor or journalist concerned an opportunity of being heard, hold an inquiry in such manner as may be provided by regulations made under this Act and, if it is satisfied
that it is necessary so to do, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist, as the case may be:
Provided that the Council may not take cognizance of a complaint if in the opinion of the Chairman, there is no sufficient ground for holding an inquiry.
(2) If the Council is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient in public interest so to do, it may require any newspaper to publish therein in such manner as the Council thinks fit, any particulars relating to any inquiry under this section against a newspaper or news agency, an editor or a journalist working therein, including the name of such newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist.
(3) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall be deemed to empower the Council to hold an inquiry into any matter in respect of which any proceeding is pending in a court of law.
(4) The decision of the Council under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), as the case be, shall be final and shall not be questioned in a court of law.
General Powers of the Council (5 of 1908)
15.(1) For the purpose of performing its functions or holding any inquiry
under this Act, the Council shall have the same powers throughout
India as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and examining
them on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office;
(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents; and
(f) any other matter, which may be prescribed
(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall be deemed to compel any newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist to disclose the source of any news or
information published by that newspaper or received or reported by that news agency, editor or journalist.
(45 of 1860)
(3) Every inquiry held by the Council shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code.
(4) The Council may, if it considers it necessary for the purpose of carrying out its objects or for the performance of any of its functions under this Act, make such observations, as it may think fit, in any of its decisions or reports, respecting the conduct of any authority, including Government.
Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) Regulations, 1979
3. Contents of complaint in respect of a newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist under Section 14(1) of the Act:
(1) Where a person makes a complaint to the Council in respect of the publication or non-publication of any matter in any newspaper or news agency, under Section 14(1) of the Act he shall-
(a) furnish the name and address of the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist against which or whom the complaint is preferred and in cases where the complaint relates to the publication of matter in a newspaper or to the transmission by a news agency, forward along with the complaint a cutting of the matter complained of in original and such other particulars as are relevant to the subject-matter of the complaint; and where the
complaint is in respect of non- publication of matter, the original or a copy of the matter, non-publication of which is complained of;
(b) state in what manner the publication or non-publication of the matter complained of is objectionable within the meaning of Section 14(1) of the Act;
(c) before filing the complaint before the Council, draw the attention of the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist concerned, to the matter appearing in the newspaper etc. or to the non-publication thereof which, in the opinion of the complainant, is objectionable, and he shall also furnish to the newspaper, news agency, editor or the working journalist, as the case may be, the grounds for holding such opinion. The complainant shall, along with the complaint, enclose a copy of the letter written by him to the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist together with a copy of the reply, if any received by him, provided that the Chairman may in his discretion waive this condition;
(d) In case where the complaint is that an editor or a working journalist has committed any professional misconduct, other than the way of the publication or non-publication of any matter in a newspaper, the complainant shall set out clearly in detail the facts
which according to him justify the complaint and the provisions of clause (c) above shall also apply to such complaints.
(e) in every case place all other relevant facts before the Council; and
(f) (i) In the case of a complaint relating to the publication or non- publication of any matter in respect of newspaper or news agency the same shall be lodged with the Council within the following periods of its publication or non publication:
· Dailies, News Agencies and Weeklies within two months.
· In all other cases………… within four months
Provided that a relevant publication of an earlier date may be referred to in the complaint.
(ii) In the case of a complaint against an editor or working journalist under clause (d) above the same shall be lodged within four months of the misconduct complained of:
Provided that the Council may, if satisfied that the complainant has acted promptly, but that the delay in filing the complaint within the period prescribed under sub clause (i) or sub-clause (ii) of Regulation (3)1(f) has been caused by reason of the time taken to comply with the condition laid down in sub-clause (c) supra or on account of other sufficient cause to condone the delay and entertain the complaint. The power of condonation shall be exercised by the Chairman, subject to the approval of the Council.
(2) The complainant while presenting the complaint shall at the foot thereof make and subscribe to a declaration to the effect:
(i) that to the best of his knowledge and belief he has placed all the relevant facts before the Council and that no proceedings are pending in any court of law in respect of any matter alleged in the complaint.
ii) that he shall inform the Council forthwith if during the pendency of the inquiry before the Council any matter alleged in the complaint becomes the subject matter of any proceeding in a court of law.
5. Issue of notice: (1) As soon as possible, and in any case not later than fifteen days from the date of receipt of a complaint, under the directions of the Chairman, a copy thereof shall be sent to the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist against which or whom the complaint has been made, under regulation 3 along with a notice requiring the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist, as the case may be, to show cause why action should not be taken under Section 14 of the Act. Provided that in appropriate cases the Chairman shall have the discretion to extend time for the issuance of the notice.
Provided further that the Chairman may decide not to issue a notice to show cause to the newspaper, news agency, editor or working journalist where, in his opinion, there is no sufficient ground for holding an inquiry. The Council at its next meeting shall be apprised by the Chairman of the reasons for his decision not to issue a “Show Cause” notice and it may pass such orders as it deems fit.
(2)The notice issued under sub-regulation (i) above shall be sent to the newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist concerned by registered post, acknowledgement due, at the address furnished in the complaint.
6. Filing of written statement: (1) The newspaper, news agency, editor or other working journalist against which or whom the complaint is made may, within fourteen days from the date of service of the copy of the complaint and notice under regulation 5 or within such further time as may be granted by the Chairman in this behalf, submit a written statement in reply to the complaint.
(2) A copy of the written statement when received shall be forwarded to the complainant for his information.
(3) After receipt of the complaint or written statement, the Chairman may, if he considers necessary, call for any further information either from the complainant or the respondent newspaper, news agency, editor or working journalist, as the case may be, in order to clarify matters appearing in the complaint or written statement and in doing so, may call for such documents or further statements as he might consider necessary. All the documents and statements called for by him shall form part of the record and shall be placed before the Committee at the time of the inquiry.
- Inquiry by the Committee: Notice of the time, date and place of hearing shall be served on the complainant as well as on the newspaper, news agency, editor and working journalist, as the case may be, and shall be sent by registered post, acknowledgement due. In the inquiry before the Committee the parties shall be entitled to adduce relevant evidence, oral or documentary, and make submissions in support of their contentions.
At the close of the inquiry the Committee shall make a report of its findings on the allegations contained in the complaint together with its reasons and submit the record of the case to the Council.
- Decision by the Council:(1) The Council shall after perusing the record of the case, pass orders giving its decision or it may remit the case to the Committee for such further inquiry as the Council may deem necessary and after receipt of its report dispose of the case.
(2) Every case shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members of the Council present and voting, and in the event of the votes being equal, the Chairman shall have a casting vote and shall exercise the same.
(3) The order of the Council shall be communicated in writing to the parties to the case.
- Power to take suo motu action: The Chairman may suo motu issue notice or, as the case may be, take action in respect of any matter which falls within the mischief of Section 14(1) of the Act or in respect of or relating to any matter falling under Section 13(2) thereof and thereupon the procedure prescribed by these regulations from regulation 5 onwards shall be followed as if it were a complaint under regulation 3.
14.Procedure in respect of complaint etc. under Section 13 :The procedure prescribed by these regulations in respect of complaints under section 14(1) of the Act shall apply, as far as may be, to complaints or representations received by the Council with regard to any subject falling within the provisions of Section 13.