The government on Thursday told Parliament that it does not agree with the conclusions drawn by ‘Reporters Without Borders’ in the World Press Freedom Index that ranked India 150th among 180 nations.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, said the government did not agree with the conclusions drawn by the organisation for various reasons including “very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent”.
Thakur was responding to separate questions put by Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and AAP member Sanjay Singh.
The minister said the Government was committed to ensuring the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution. Thakur said the Press Council of India (PCI) has been set up under the Press Council Act, 1978 mainly to preserve the freedom of the press and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country.
He said the PCI looks into the complaints filed ‘by the Press’ regarding curtailment of press freedom.
Thakur said the PCI was also empowered to take suo moto cognizance in matters on the pressing issues concerning freedom of the Press and safeguarding of its high standards.
In response to Kharge’s question on the arrest of journalists, the minister said the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain data separately on attacks on journalists.
According to the World Press Freedom Index, released in May, India’s ranking dropped to 150th position from last year’s 142nd rank among 180 nations.