The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday sought withdrawal of the newly released Central Media Accreditation Guidelines.
Expressing concern over the new guidelines issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Guild said: “It is clear that these vague, arbitrary and draconian clauses have been included with an intent to restrict any critical and investigative reporting of government affairs. There are other provisions as well that are restrictive,” it said.
The EGI said in the case of freelance journalists, the requirements pertaining to the number of bylines had been made unreasonably high. “The guidelines have been introduced without any prior consultation with journalists’ bodies, media or organisation. The Guild, therefore, demands a withdrawal of these guidelines and urges PIB to undertake meaningful consultation with all the stakeholders,” it said.
The PIB lays down the rules for giving accreditation to journalists for accessing and reporting from the headquarters of the government of India.
The Guild said the guidelines contained various new provisions under which accreditation could be revoked if the journalist was charged with a serious cognisable offence, or if the journalist acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of State, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
“It is bizarre that merely being charged has been mentioned as a ground for cancellation. The other grounds for cancellations are manifestly vague and subjective. Worst still, journalists concerned have not been given an opportunity to be heard. Most surprisingly, ‘defamation’ has been included as a ground for cancellation,” said the EGI statement.