Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur on Saturday said that the media in India is under attack “in many ways”, but the freedom of the press is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and journalists must stand up to protect it.
Speaking at a programme organised to present the International Press Institute (IPI) India awards for excellence in journalism, he said events such as lodging of FIRs against scribes and putting them under arrest for doing their job have had “a chilling effect” on media persons, forcing them to become “far more cautious than they ought to be”.
The India chapter of the IPI presented the awards for excellence in journalism for the years 2020 and 2021 in New Delhi on Saturday.
“It is a matter of common knowledge that the press is under attack in many ways. Many journalists have been arrested and kept in prison for a considerable period for doing their work. Many others have FIRs against them for the same reason. There are also instances of some journalists being politely asked to toe the line…,” Justice Lokur said.
There were instances where the release of advertisements to media organisations was stopped or payments against the advertisements were withheld by the establishment, “thereby crippling small newspapers,” he said.
In an incident, a television channel’s licence has not been renewed on grounds of national security, without disclosing the material, Justice Lokur said, in an apparent reference to the case of Malayalam news channel MediaOne, which has filed an appeal against the Kerala High Court judgment that upheld the Centre’s decision, says a PTI report.