Free Press Journal

Ban on NDTV illegal: Katju


CHENNAI : 14/08/2008: Markandey Katju, (second from right) Judge, Supereme Court at a function held in Chennai on Thursday. Photo : M_Vedhan.

New Delhi : Former Press Council Chairman and ex-Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju, on Saturday, said the one-day ban imposed on NDTV’s Hindi channel next Wednesday is illegal.

He spoke to the channel’s senior executive editor Ravish Kumar to point out that the rule under which the ban was imposed applies only to “live coverage” and not to reporting of the anti-terrorist operations. Media people perhaps did not read Rule 6(1)(p) of the Programme Code of Cable TV Network Rules, 1994, carefully as they are only making general remarks against violation of media freedom and democracy, Justice Katju said. Since this point did not strike any media people, he wanted Ravish to bring it to their knowledge.

The said rule says: “No programme should be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government, till such operation concludes.”

Katju said the rule is crystal clear that the ban is on showing “live coverage” of anti-terrorist operations by the security forces. “Live coverage means showing scenes of security forces searching or pursuing terrorists, or fighting with them; mere reporting about anti-terrorist operations and not live coverage.”

The former Press Council chairman said the NDTV had only reported about the anti-terrorist operations, but it had not shown any scenes of security forces chasing or fighting with terrorists and so there was no live coverage to attract violation of the rule quoted by the government for imposing a day’s ban on the TV channel. “I also told Ravish that no freedom can be absolute, and can be restricted in the interest of society or the state security. But the ban imposed was only on live coverage, not on mere reporting of anti-terrorist operations,” Katju added in his Facebook post.