New Delhi, Oct 10: Press Council of India Chairman Justice(retd) Markandeya Katju today asked the union government to defer it move to amend the rules relating to renewal of licence for TV news channels for violating the broadcasting code.
In an informal interaction with media at his residence, Justice Katju said “harsh measures” against the media should be resorted to only in extreme situations.
“No doubt, if the media proves incorrigible, harsh measures may be required but in my opinion that should be resorted to only as a last resort and in extreme situations. Ordinarily, we should first try to resolve the issues by discussion, consultation and self-regulation.
“That is the approach which should be ordinarily first tried in a democracy. I, therefore, respectfully request the union government to kindly defer implementation of its recent decision regarding the news channels license, so that we can ourselves discuss the issue thoroughly and take corrective measures in this connection,” he said.
Katju said that in compliance with the directions of the Chief Information Commissioner, the 71-page report of the Press Council Committee of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Sreenivas Reddy had been uploaded on the website of the PCI, with a disclaimer that the regulatory body had rejected the report.
The PCI chairperson cautioned the media against plant of mischievous news by vested interests to whip up communal passion in the country.
He faulted media reports citing e-mail claims of the Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed or Harkatul-jihad-e-Islam for recent Delhi High Court blast.
“Now an e-mail can be sent by any mischievous person but by showing this on TV channels and next day in newspapers, the tendency is to brand all Muslims in the country as terrorists and bomb-throwers,” he said.
Katju reiterated his plea to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release 80-year-old Pakistani virologist Khalil Chisty who is in a jail in Ajmer in connection with a murder case.
Chisty, an eminent virologist in Karachi Medical College, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case.
“The Pakistan government honoured my appeal and released Gopal Das from a Pakistani jail. I am sad that Indian government has not yet honoured my appeal made several months ago to the Hon'ble Prime Minister, the Home Minister and his excellency the Governor of Rajasthan.
“In my opinion, the prestige of our country will be increased if Dr Chisty is released whereas, if he dies in jail we will be disgraced,” the former SC judge said. PTI