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Freedom Of Press: Delhi High Court Issues Notice To Rajya Sabha Media Advisory Council On Journalist's Plea Against Denial Of Press-Pass

Akshita Saxena
18 Aug 2021 11:33 AM GMT
Freedom Of Press: Delhi High Court Issues Notice To Rajya Sabha Media Advisory Council On Journalists Plea Against Denial Of Press-Pass
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Rajya Sabha Media Advisory Committee on an appeal preferred by a journalist, assailing a single judge order refusing to interfere with the Committee's decision denying her press-pass for observing proceedings of the Parliamentary Committees.A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice, returnable on...

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Rajya Sabha Media Advisory Committee on an appeal preferred by a journalist, assailing a single judge order refusing to interfere with the Committee's decision denying her press-pass for observing proceedings of the Parliamentary Committees.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice, returnable on September 27, after hearing Senior Advocate Maneka Guruswamy for the Petitioner.

Guruswamy submitted that Anil Chamadia is a senior journalist with over 22 years experience in covering Parliament proceedings, specifically the Rajya Sabha. She stated that from 2009-17 the Committee issued annual pass to the Petitioner and gave access to hearings of both- the House (while it is in session) and the Parliamentary Committees (where laws are discussed beforehand).

However, suddenly, she submitted, the Media Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha took away those privileges and the Petitioner's access to Parliamentary Committees.

"This is unconstitutional. It infringes upon freedom of press. Under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, any restriction imposed on the press must be reasonable. But once you take away the ability of a journalist with experience of 22 years to access those debates, you dispropitanelty impact the freedom of press," Guruswamy argued.

She relied on the case of Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India where the freedom of press was reaffirmed by a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court. "Responsible Governments are required to respect the freedom of the press at all times. Journalists are to be accommodated in reporting..." the Top Court had observed therein. Guruswamy stated that starting from the judgment in the Indian Express Newspapers v. Union of India (1984) case to the case of Amish Devgan v. Union of India (2020), it is well settled that freedom of media is recognized under Article 19(1)(a).

She stated that the single judge in the impugned order has also recognized the Freedom of Press but leaves it for the Committee to relook into Chamadia's case. "We agree with the Judge's characterization of freedom of press. But some relief has to be granted," she said.

Advocate Tatini Basu appeared for the Media Advisory Committee on advance notice.

Case Title: Anil Chamadia v. Chairman, Media Advisory Committee, Rajya Sabha  

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