The central government does not subscribe to the views of ‘Reporters Without Borders’ nor does it agree with the rankings of the World Press Freedom Index brought out by the organisation, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur informed Parliament.
“The World Press Freedom Index is published by a foreign Non Government-Organization, “Reporters Without Borders”. The Government does not subscribe to its views and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organisation,” the minister stated in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
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Replying to a question by Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh of the Congress
“In pursuance of its policy to uphold the freedom of press, the government does not interfere in the functioning of the press,” the minister said in response to a question by YSRCP member Adala Prabhakar Reddy.
He said the Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body, has been set up to preserve the freedom of the press and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country.
The minister further said that the government attaches utmost importance to the safety and security of all citizens of the country, including journalists. He said that an advisory on the safety of journalists was issued to states and Union Territories in October 2017, requesting them to strictly enforce the law to ensure the safety and security of media persons.
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Responding to another question by Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai, Thakur said that freedom of speech and expression is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to citizens under Article 19(1) with restrictions as stated in Article 19(2). He was replying to a question on whether the freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution of India and if the right is absolute or if there is any restriction on the use or its misuse in electronic or print media.
“Under the Article 19(2), the state is empowered to impose reasonable restrictions on the operation of the right in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence,” he stated.