The Indian Journalists Union (IJU), the largest and most representative organisation of the practitioners of journalism in the country, strongly felt that the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directing the news media not to publish the contents of the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) against a former Advocate General of the state and some relatives of a judge was most unfortunate. It amounted to a denial of the fundamental right of freedom of the press and the people’s right to information.
On an urgent motion the High Court on Tuesday late evening “directed that the news in regard registration of FIR or in context of the said FIR shall not be made public in any electronic, print or social media”. It may be noted that several media outlets flashed the news with details hours before the High Court intervention.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) President K Sreenivas Reddy and Secretary General Balwinder Singh Jammu felt that the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s blanket order was a judicial overreach on the rights and privileges of the fourth estate of democracy, the Press, as important as the other three
estates, Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. They said, “The tendency of the higher judiciary to sweepingly restrict the freedom of the press and freedom of expression in name of ‘reasonable’ restrictions envisaged in the constitution in recent times weakens the foundation of the Indian democracy”.
The IJU leaders said the restrictions on the publication of the information contained in the FIR against prominent legal luminaries and their relatives, in the long run, would work against the interests of petitioner and others, giving ample opportunity for speculative and imaginary perceptions in the minds of common public, which would
not be conducive ‘for truth and fair play’. The IJU hoped that the judiciary would reconsider its decisions infringing on the rights of the fourth estate in the interest of democracy.