Nava J Thakuria
Guwahati: Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) commends the concern
expressed by Madras High Court in a recent directive to Tamil Nadu
government to constitute a press council so that the menace of fake
news/journalists can be legally addressed. The forum also opines that
a recognized journalist should be barred from doing non-journalistic
jobs like that of a contractor to the government department and so on.
Mentionable is that, the apex court of Tamil Nadu lately ordered the
State government in Chennai to form ‘Press Council of Tamil Nadu’
within three months to eliminate the bogus journalists from the media
fraternity. It added that the quasi-judicial council should be headed
by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court, with members
from the media fraternity, civil service & police department
The court observed that it becomes a common sight these days to find
posh cars with PRESS stickers on the front windshield being driven by
unscrupulous fraudsters masquerading as working journalists. There
have been quite a number of instances of such fraudsters being booked
by the police. Politicians, land sharks, smugglers and even murderers
have been seen to be hand in glove with these journalists.
The State directorate of information and public relations is aware of
this, but the officials turn a blind eye, to avoid any wrath in the
hands of those fake journalists. This needs to be stopped to ensure
that journalism remains clean and strong. In view of the above
position, necessary directions have to be issued to clean up the media
in the interest of public, added the court observation.
The court asked the government to avoid allotting any house or grant
directly to any applicant journalists unless it is routed through the
council to be constituted, which after due diligence can issue such
benefits. It shall prohibit conduct of State conferences or meetings
by journalist’s associations without permission or approval from the
council, which shall get details on the source of income and other
relevant details before giving permission to them.
It also directed the government to make necessary amendments to the
accreditation rules and asked not to issue press stickers, identity
cards and other benefits, unless the organisation or media house
discloses the number of employees, salary slips, TDS details, tax paid
to the government and proof that it sells certain number of copies of
newspapers or has certain viewership.
The common people aggrieved by the fake news or motivated and
agenda-based news can send their complaints on fake journalists to the
welfare board, which shall inquire and initiate criminal action
against such scribes as they are simply a menace and threat to the
society. The council shall have powers to order the carrier of
offending news items for a rejoinder or an apology.
“We also witness numerous incidents of media malpractices in Assam,
where some of them have been dragged to the court. Even public
protests have also erupted against some touting journalists,” said JFA
president Rupam Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria, adding that those
pretending scribes only harm the genuine media persons in the long run
and hence Assam government should think of launching a media council
at the earliest.