The winter (session) of the freedom of the press?

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The winter (session) of the freedom of the press?

Recent restrictions on journalists ‘coverage of the work of Parliament violate media freedom and citizens’ right to know

The free and unhindered functioning of the media is an essential feature of democracy and is part of the constitutionally guaranteed right to speech and expression.  Credit: Getty images

The recent restrictions on journalists ‘coverage of parliamentary proceedings violate media freedom and citizens’ right to know. The restrictions prevent journalists from accessing the press gallery, the central hall of the parliament and the executive wing of the parliament building, and from freely interacting with members of parliament. The aim appears to be to restrict media coverage of Parliament, and regional media will be particularly affected by the curbs. Only certain members of the English and Hindi media are authorized to report on the proceedings of the winter session. Others can only access the Press Gallery two days a week and the days will be decided by lot. Even journalists who have year-round passes will now have limited access. Senior journalists who were once allowed in have also been banned. The result is that only a limited number of journalists have access to Parliament to perform their professional duty.

The restrictions were first introduced last year as part of the Covid protocols, but they continued even after the general easing of measures. This has raised the suspicion that the restrictions have become permanent. The decisions and actions taken by the current government in matters of media freedom have heightened mistrust. He used various methods to control the media and punish critics. Raids were used and individual journalists were faced with actions. India’s ranking in the Global Media Freedom Index has steadily declined in recent years. The actions and policies of the government have greatly contributed to this. Journalism is even considered a dangerous profession in the country. The restrictions in Parliament were seen by many as a prelude to a complete ban on on-site reporting from Parliament.

Media organizations, including the Editors Guild, protested against the restrictions. They held a protest march and a meeting and called on President Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to lift restrictions and restore journalists’ entry into parliament. The free and unhindered functioning of the media is an essential feature of democracy and is part of the constitutionally guaranteed right to speech and expression. Parliament is the most important institution of democracy and denying the right to report to Parliament is very undemocratic. Citizens have the right to know how Parliament works and what their elected representatives in Parliament are doing. The government should not deny them this right, which is expressed through the functions of free and independent media, and should not try to control parliamentary reports.

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