A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking an insurance cover of ₹50 lakhs for each journalist and media person who is reporting on the COVID19 pandemic.
Filed by Advocate Arpit Bhargava, the petition also seeks court's direction to Union of India and the Press Council of India to ensure safety and security measures for media persons.
Highlighting the risks that are involved in doing field reporting during prevailing conditions, the Petitioner has demanded 'Work From Home' facility for the media persons. In addition to this, he has also asked for basic sanitation facilities to be ensured at the workplaces of journalists.
'Media persons are working round the clock without caring for their own safety and are providing accurate information to public at large from time to time. Government by introducing Insurance scheme for health professionals has already acknowledged the efforts of doctors, nurses etc in the fight against Covid 19. Thus, welfare, safety and security of media persons also assume significance in this hour of crisis when cases of Covid 19 are increasing day by day in India', the petition states.
In the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs declaring a nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure to curb community spreading of COVID19, media professionals were included in the list of 'essential services' which are exempted from the lockdown.
It is the argument of the Petitioner that when an insurance scheme can be announced for the healthcare workers, why can't the same be done for journalists considering that the government has recognised their services as essential.
In addition to the insurance cover, the Petitioner has also asked for certain social security measures to protect the journalists during the lockdown period. This shall also include not cutting the salaries of the journalists for the days falling under the said lockdown period, which is 15/04/20.
It is submitted by the Petitioner that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that journalists are not left without any social security or protection, as media is the fourth pillar of democracy.
'situation will become grim for public at large in case media persons meets with an accident while interacting and collating news on Covid 19 and his/his family welfare is not taken into account', the petition states.