The UPA Government is considering giving the Press Council of India (PCI) more teeth by amending the PCI Act, 1978.
It is feared that such an amendment may affect the freedom of expression of journalists as already there are self-regulatory bodies in place. Moreover, the question arises whether PCI already has enough powers, even as the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression?
Sharing his views on this, Uday Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said, “The question of giving more teeth to the Press Council of India is still under consideration and no final view has been taken on this. Any view on this will be taken after discussions with all stakeholders and evolving a consensus on this issue. I understand that it is not a simple issue, but a complicated one.”
As far as the paid news issue, which has been raised in Parliament, is concerned, Varma noted that several cases of paid news have been coming to light on various occasions, and especially around elections. If the proposal gets the nod of PCI’s 28 members as well as the Parliament, the Council will be further strengthened and may act as an umpire in this issue.