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PCI moves Supreme Court against ban of reporting troop movements

The Press Council of India today moved the Supreme Court against an Allahabad High Court order, which banned media from reporting troop movements. On April 10, the high court bench of justices Uma Nath Singh and Virendra Kumar Dixit had directed various Central and state government authorities "to ensure that there is no reporting / release of any news item by the print or electronic media, namely the movement of troops." The directions were given to the Union Home secretary, the Information and Broadcasting secretary and the principal secretary (Home) of the Uttar Pradesh government. The petition filed through PCI Chairman and former apex court judge Markandeya Katju's office, submitted that the order was in violation of the fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, granted to the media and every citizen of the country.

The high court order had come on a PIL filed by a social activist relating to a report in The Indian Express on April 4, 2012. The report pertained to purported movements of some Army troops towards New Delhi. Katju earlier had said, "With great respect to the high court, I am of the opinion that its order is not correct. The media has a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution to make such publication, as it did not endanger national security. Katju had also maintained that the Indian Army is not a colonial army, but the army of the Indian people who pay the taxes for the entire defence budget.

"Hence the people of India have a right to know about army affairs, except where that may compromise national security. The media did an excellent job in exposing the Adarsh and Sukhna scams in which senior army officers were involved, and they were well within their right under Article 19(1) (a) to do so,” the PCI chairman had said Katju's contention is that such reporting can be prohibited only near the border and during war times. PTI

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