The Foundation for Media Professionals condemns the Government’s bizarre threat to implicate the renowned investigative journalist and chairman of the Hindu Publishing Group, Mr N Ram, under the archaic and draconian Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The announcement of such an intent by Attorney General K K Venugopal in the the Supreme Court on March 6 betrays the Government’s desperation to deter the media from probing the controversial Rafale deal any further.
In the process, Mr Venugopal, despite being a Constitution office-holder, disregarded Section 22 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which says that this transparency law “shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923”.
Since he cited security considerations for invoking OSA, it is apt to bear in mind the spirit of RTI as encapsulated in Section 24 which clarifies that even the intelligence and security organizations that are expressly exempt from its purview are obligated to provide information “pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations”.
Whatever the outcome of the review petition against its judgment on the Rafale deal, the Supreme Court should ensure that there is no collateral damage to the media’s freedom to play its watchdog role even in the most sensitive matters.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President, FMP
Manoj Mitta, Director, FMP