PCI has limited power, says I&B ministry

I&B ministry sources stated that PCI cannot decide everything like the judiciary.

New Delhi: Days after serving a bailable arrest warrant against Union information and broadcasting ministry secretary Sunil Arora, the Press Council of India and the ministry seem to be at loggerheads over the issue of the media body’s powers.

I&B ministry sources stated that the PCI has “limited powers” and cannot decide everything like the judiciary. Sources said that under the Press Council Act, the PCI has been given powers to summon attendance of persons and examine them on oath only for two purposes — for carrying out its functions and for holding an enquiry. The financial and legislative proposals of PCI are examined in the ministry and legislature, respectively, sources said. However, PCI chairman Justice C.K. Prasad (Retd), told agencies that the council was of the “prima facie” feel that it does have the powers to issue such a warrant.

He said the council is willing to listen to the ministry’s contention in this regard. The decision to secure Mr Arora’s attendance before the council at its next scheduled meeting here on April 22 was taken by its members at their meeting on April 11.

Directing the I&B secretary to appear before it on April 11, the PCI on March 17 had decided to institute a suo motu inquiry into the “continued apathy” of the ministry towards the activities of the council, particularly at its efforts to preserve the freedom of the press and its mandate under the Press Council Act. Mr Arora is scheduled to retire on April 30.

Justice Prasad said the ministry had in its initial response questioned the council’s powers, but in another communication on Wednesday said the I&B secretary would come.

A request was also made to the council to consider a change in the date for the secretary’s appearance. Justice Prasad said a decision on the issue would be taken after seeking views of all the council members.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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