ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Defending Markandey Katju

The preamble of the Press Council Act, 1978 (hereinafter the Act) states that it is enacted to establish a Press Council for the purpose of (a) preserving the freedom of the press; and (b) maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India. In October 2011, (retired) Justice Markandey Katju was appointed chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI). He rebelled against orthodoxy during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge, authoring some of the most liberal judgments of our time wherein he was harsh on honour killings (Arumugam Servai case, Crl Appeal No 958 of 2011), legalised passive euthanasia (Aruna Shanbaug case, WP (Crl) No 115 of 2009), reminded judiciary about the limits to its powers (Division Manager Aravali Golf Course case, Appeal (Civil) 5732 of 2007) and granted bail in the controversial Binayak Sen case. As a judge he was famous with the media which bestowed on him the title of “The Liberal Lion”.

However, on account of a recent interview, Katju’s popularity with the press has taken a blow. The chairman of the PCI has, while ridiculing the callous attitude of media in our country, suggested that it is now time that its activities (including news TV and other electronic media which are otherwise not governed by any Act) need to be regulated through a proper mechanism. He affirmed that he has the support of the leader of the opposition and has also written to the prime minister who is now considering his proposal.

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