Established in 1966, the Press Council of India (PCI) will celebrate its Golden Jubilee and the National Press Day on November 16 (Wednesday afternoon) at a grand function to be graced among others by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to PCI Chairman, Justice (Retd) C K Prasad, the council is “neither a paper tiger nor a regulator”. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on the eve of the council’s Golden Jubilee Celebration, Prasad said: “In media, we are often described as a paper tiger, but this is not true.”
In this context, he cited the example of a PCI verdict lately , which has gone against an incumbent Union minister Maneka Gandhi. The Minister had challenged news agency Reuters of an interview given by her saying she was misquoted and demanded that the agency provides the “tape”. This version was not accepted by the PCI as the Reuters had stood by their story.
In yet another instance, sources said three members of parliament nominated to the PCI “lost their position” in the PCI due to irregular attendance in the council sittings.
The PCI Chairman maintained the “delay” in disposing of cases has been a major issue before the PCI but since his tenure beginning November 2014, efforts have been made to dispose of the cases at the earliest.
“Disposing of the old cases – maybe over 1000 – have helped to pass the message that the council means business and is not a paper tiger,” he told reporters. As of now there are 282 cases pending and most of these are dated after April 1, 2016, the chairman said.
Prasad also said that the PCI is neither a regulator. “We are not into policing and rather PCI is only a facilitator to help the media discharge its duties”. For instance, the Council is trying to prepare “guidelines for journalists working in conflict-hit regions like northeast India”.
Besides Prime Minister Modi and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, the golden jubilee function will be also attended by respective press council delegations from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “Delegations from Pakistan are also expected as they have confirmed and now we are trying to arrange visas for them,” Justice Prasad said.
With regard to Bhutan and Afghanistan, the chairman said as these two countries do not have any press councils, they would be represented in the Golden Jubilee functions by the representatives from the respective embassies.
The press council is trying to work out an alliance of all press or media councils of South Asian countries “to promote peace, fair and fearless journalism” in the region.
“The alliance will be headquartered in New Delhi and soon the alliance will be extended to South East Asia and other regions in the sub-continent,” Prasad said.
Among other senior journalists, S. Nihal Singh will be honored with the special ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award’ for “outstanding contribution towards journalism”, he said.
A special jury of the PCI also decided to honor senior media persons for their “outstanding contributions”. They include – Raghu Rai (Photo), Shetia Singh, P. Venkateswara Rao and Mrinal Pandey (senior journalists) and Harish Chandra Shukla (Sr Cartoonist).