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'346 Journalists Died Due To COVID' : Plea In Supreme Court Seeks Compensation, Medical Benefits For Media Persons

Radhika Roy
1 Jun 2021 1:43 PM GMT
346 Journalists Died Due To COVID : Plea In Supreme Court Seeks Compensation, Medical Benefits For Media Persons
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An Intervention Application has been filed in the Suo Moto COVID case before the Supreme Court, highlighting the situation of journalists and media personnel during the pandemic and, seeking directions to ensure proper and adequate COVID treatment is given to them and their families. Settled by Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid and filed by Advocate Lubna Naaz on behalf of Dr. Kota...

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An Intervention Application has been filed in the Suo Moto COVID case before the Supreme Court, highlighting the situation of journalists and media personnel during the pandemic and, seeking directions to ensure proper and adequate COVID treatment is given to them and their families.


Settled by Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid and filed by Advocate Lubna Naaz on behalf of Dr. Kota Neelima, who is the Director of Institute of Perception Studies and its media initiative 'Rate the Debate',  the application submits that the data which has been collected on the basis of verified and unverified deaths since April 2020 showcases that there have been 346 deaths of journalists. Further, there is a lack of medical facilities and institutional support for journalists who have been working throughout the pandemic, without being recognized as such.

"There have been 253 deaths of journalists due to Covid-19 which have been verified and 93 death which are unverified between 1st April 2020 to 19thMay 2021. The said list is not exhaustive.On an average, 4 deaths of journalists have taken place between 1stApril 2020 to 19th May 2021.The data suggests that 34% of the death have occurred in the metro cities whereas 66% of the deaths have occurred in the smaller cities. Moreover, the data also reveals that 54% of the deaths of the media persons have happened in print media and the greatest number of deaths have occurred in the age group of 41-50 years".

The IA goes on to submit that despite writing a letter to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and requesting for media persons to be declared as frontline workers, the Central Government has not designated them for vaccine prioritization.

It further brings to light that the guidelines of the Special Drive under Journalist Welfare Scheme (JWS) launched by the Central Government requires accreditation details of a journalist and states that a 'media personnel' will not include persons employed at a managerial level or in a supervisory capacity which leaves a large number of persons deprived of any relief.

"That the requirement of accreditation, which is prerequisite to obtain benefits under the scheme, has proved to be the largest obstacle for the journalists to avail the same. Accreditation is the process whereby the news media representatives are recognized by the Government for purposes of access to sources of information in the Government and also to news channels, written or pictorial, released by the Press Information Bureau and/or agencies of the Government of India."

The IA contends that there are journalists who work in the same organization, one being accredited and another being non-accredited, and therefore, there is no parity and it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

It also underlines Rule 6.1 of the Guidelines which stipulates that eligibility conditions for correspondents/camerapersons includes minimum 15 years professional experience as a full-time working journalist. Additionally, Rule 6.2 limits the eligibility to those who reside in Delhi or its periphery. This leaves a large number of journalists in the fray.

"That the mere technical difference between the accredited and non-accredited journalists/media person with respect to compensation and other benefits being provided by both the central and state governments is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India".

The IA lasts seeks for a fixed amount of ex-gratia compensation to be provided to the kin of journalists who have died of COVID-19 while performing duty.

The following prayers are sought :

(a)recognize all the journalists and media persons as 'frontline warriors" so that they can avail the benefits being extended to all such workers; and/or(

b)formulate a comprehensive guideline with respect to the medical facilities and related benefits for Covid-19 pandemic to be extended to the journalists/media persons (accredited and non-accredited) to be implemented by all the States and the Union Territories in a uniform manner;

(c)direct the government for free treatment of journalists in private as well as government hospitals in this unprecedented time of pandemic and the reimbursement of their bills;and/or

(d)direct the government to provide compensatory support to the immediate families of journalist in the form of ex-gratia or employment support;and/or

(e)fix a minimum amount to be given as compensation to maintain a parity among states;and/or(f)direct the government provide journalists with a walk-in-registration and vaccination making it non-mandatory for them to register on CoWIN;and/or(

g)direct the government to not consider the differentiation between the accredited and non-accredited journalists, employed and free-lance, rural and urban, technicians and assistance be removed for the purposeof all the schemes being provided so that it is more inclusiveand/or

(h)direct the government to include editorial staff, photographers, videographers, cameramen, technician, technical staff and all assistants in the definition of 'journalists and media persons'

Click here to read/download the application











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