New Delhi: It was L.K. Advani, one of the tallest leaders of the BJP, who rued the curbs imposed on the media during Emergency by the then Congress government but the saffron party is no better either. The directive on ‘fake news’ by the information and broadcasting ministry of the government the party heads is not the first attempt by the saffron leadership to gag the media in the recent past.
Party leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had last year brought in an ordinance to gag the media but was forced to withdraw it following a major uproar. The Raje government’s ordinance barred courts from taking up complaints against public servants without the government’s approval.
The law also made it a crime to identify the minister, lawmaker or official against whom a complaint has been filed in the court. The proposed law also gave unparalleled power to even imprison journalists and came under severe attack. The government later withdrew from the move.
“The ordinance promulgated by the State government last year was ostensibly done to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs. But in reality it is a pernicious instrument to harass the media, hide wrongful acts by government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” a statement by Editors Guild of India had said.
It has also been noted that Union ministers have repeatedly targeted the media, with minister of state for external affairs Gen (Rtd) V.K. Singh describing the media as “presstitues”.
The minister’s comments came after his visit to the Pakistani High Commission stoked a controversy....