While hearing a Public Interest Litigation
or PIL filed by Sekaran, a press reporter, the Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran
and P. Velmurugan
asked the TN government to file a report on a number of registered newspapers and magazines in the State along with their circulation details by January 21, 2020. Petitioner had alleged that former Idol Wing CID IG Pon Manickavel had fudged records to convey false information on a long pending temple idol theft case. In the matter, the petitioner’s credentials as a reporter, were itself challenged which he refuted by producing 6 identity cards proving that he was a journalist. Government has also been asked to give status report of the number of employees in each and every registered magazine and newspaper, number of accreditation cards issued per newspaper, cases against false reporters and errant members of the press, the existence of government schemes for the benefit of press in case of untimely and details of journalists’ associations in Tamil Nadu.
Taking a critical note of the fake journalists who malign the image of the press, the court made following remarks, “genuine press reporters are side-lined and these fake press people / press reporters have taken over all the press associations and they are said to be dominating the associations. They are allegedly reporting news on payment."
The Court also observed that, “It is evident from the media reports that many people are claiming themselves as press reporters and said to have been committing crimes and blackmailing business people and Government officials… many fake press people are claiming themselves to be reporters of popular and established newspapers and collecting money from organizers of meetings/seminars bringing disrepute to those popular newspapers/magazines.”
Taking a suo motu
stand, the court made the Secretary of the Information and Public Relationship Department of the State Government, the Press Council of India, the Madras Union of Journalists, the Madras Reporters Guild and the Chennai Press Club, as respondents and asked them to answer various queries raised in the present case. Author: Parth Thummar