The Editors Guild of India (EGI) today took severe exception to Narendra Modi government’s attempts to invoke Official Secrets Act against journalists, after the government is locked in defensive after The Hindu published some crucial documents related to Rafel deal.
The EGI particularly, strongly condemned the remarks made by Attorney General KK Venugopal in the Supreme Court the sources of recent media coverage of the Rafale deal. The Guild said that any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against journalists would be reprehensible. The statement was jointly singed by EGI president Shekhar Gupta, General Secretary AK Bhattacharya and Treasurer Sheela Bhatt, who are veteran journalists.
Venugopal, representing the Centre, had told the court, yesterday, that petitions seeking an inquiry into the India-France fighter jet deal were based on documents “stolen” from the Defence Ministry. He had accused news outlets that put them out in public – The Hindu newspaper and ANI news agency – of offences under the Official Secrets Act.
“Although the Attorney General later clarified that the investigation and contemplated action would not be initiated against journalists or lawyers who used these documents, the Guild is perturbed over such threats,” the Editors Guild said. “These will intimidate the media in general and curb its freedom to report and comment on the Rafale deal in particular.”
The Guild said asking journalists to disclose their sources was also reprehensible. “The Guild denounces these threats and urges the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media’s freedom and independence,” the statement added.