FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) has filed an application before the Supreme Court of India to intervene in the pending writ petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the Kashmir Times. The petition has challenged the unprecedented restrictions placed on communication and movement in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an encroachment on the freedom of expression and a hurdle to the discharge of journalistic duties.
The application has been filed by FMPs president, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, on behalf of the society with its full and unanimous support. FMP was set up in 2008 to protect media freedom and promote quality journalism. In the course of its work, FMP has frequently engaged with the government and the judiciary.
The writ petition is being heard by a bench led by Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and is to be heard on Monday, 16 September 2019.
The Press Council of India (PCI) has also intervened in the same writ petition. However, in its affidavit, instead of upholding the freedom of the press, the PCI has taken a stand condoning the government's restrictions that national interest and national security can override the freedom of the press and the publics overwhelming right to know. In public, the PCI has changed its stance since.
It has been more than 45 days since such restrictions have been impeding free and fair reporting from Jammu and Kashmir. It is against that backdrop that FMP has also intervened in Anuradha Bhasin's petition in order to ensure that press freedom is upheld and journalists are allowed to freely discharge their duties.
The threadbare facilities provided to the media in Srinagar are not only inefficient but also have the risk of surveillance for journalists and media organizations that wish to report without fear or favour and to their sources who need equal protection in order to share information in public interest and for the public good. The overall effect is a chilling effect on the protection granted to journalists since the pre-Independence era.
Apart from the restrictions, the FMP has observed and condemned reported incidents of violence and abuse against journalists. The restrictions in Jammu & Kashmir prevents us from ascertaining the full extent of the assault on journalists. The intervention by FMP also seeks to ensure a safe and secure working environment for journalists.