Monday, June 1, 2015

Guwahati: JFA resents court order over containing Bandh-call news

Journalists Forum Assam (JFA) has expressed dissatisfactions
over a higher court order preventing media coverage relating to any
Bandh-call in Meghalaya and opined that in the days of robust
alternate media in northeast India banning the newspaper and news
channels for a particular cause makes little sense.
According to media reports from Shillong, the Meghalaya High Court in
an order issued on 27 May 2015 has banned the media from publishing
statements by organizations calling for Bandhs (shutdown/general
strike) in the State which results in disruption of normal life.
The order came following Meghalaya police chief Rajiv Mehta recently
requested the court to restrain the media from carrying statements by
the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council as well as other
organizations calling for shutdowns and other forms of agitations.
The court directed that ‘the statements of HNLC or any organization
which may disturb the even tempo of day-to-day public life and cause
violation of fundamental rights of citizens in particular under
Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India relating to strike,
bandh, hartal, road blockade and holding of rallies with unlawful
design shall not be issued by any of the print and electronic media’.
Earlier the Gauhati High Court in January 2010 declared all Bandhs
illegal as it violates the fundamental rights of the citizens. The
court also directed the government to take steps for preventing
infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens on account of
Bandhs. Prior to it, the Kerala High Court in 1997 also banned Bandhs
and it was later upheld by the Supreme Court of India.
“On principle, we do not support the culture of Bandh, but the media’s
right to report about a call for general strikes by any organisation
in a democracy like India should not be curtailed,” said a statement
issued by JFA president Rupam Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria. The
JFA however pointed out that the media should not glorify any
disruptive activities in the name of freedom of the press.
The JFA questioned that if the mainstream media was restrained from
reporting the Bandh-call, who would prevent the social media-users
from spreading the same. Rather in case of Bandhs, JFA argued, the
authority should (must) take appropriate actions to maintain the civic
amenities. The forum also demanded strong actions against those
individuals, who adopt vandalism to impose Bandhs over the fellow

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