Ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament that starts on July 19, a large section of media persons has expressed its discomfort at not getting access to parliamentary proceedings while “only a handful of journalists” getting the privilege to report from the press gallery and Central Hall of the Lok Sabha.
The Press Club of India, with support from five media organisations, reached out to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday (July 14) seeking full access for journalists to the upcoming Monsoon Session.
Notably, the Modi government has repeatedly come under fire for stifling press freedom and favouring a section of media that agrees with its policies and ideology.
The memorandum of demands submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker on Wednesday made it apparent that journalists feel deprived of information from the government side. “If members of the Press are denied normal access, they can hardly do their duty of informing the readers on what goes on in Parliament,” it stated.
The journalists took the opportunity to tell Mr Om Birla what they think about government’s willingness to answer media queries. “There appears to be a pattern of isolating Parliament and parliamentarians from media scrutiny,” the memorandum stated.
The Press Club of India also drew Birla’s attention to the fact that journalists need access to the press gallery of the Lok Sabha and the Central Hall, which is a tradition from the beginning of Parliament democracy in independent India. They rued the fact that in the name of following COVID restrictions, “this tradition has been badly jolted”.
The memorandum urged the Lok Sabha Speaker “to take pro-active steps to restore full access for journalists, restore the Media Passes for all categories with immediate effect and the process of renewal be started forthwith.”
The Press Club of India also urged the Speaker to emphathize with regional media journos, many of whom are part-time employees and have been rendered jobless because of media restrictions in Lok Sabha.
The media persons also said that copies of various Bills introduced in the House should be uploaded immediately along with replies of ministers and transcripts of Question Hour for “accurate reporting” of issues at hand.
The Press Club of India sought a meeting of the Press Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha before the start of the monsoon session on July 19 for disposal of pending applications.
Signatories to the memorandum are Press Club of India (PCI) President Umakant Lakhera, Vice-President Shahid K Abbbas, Secretary General Vinay Kumar, General Secretary of Editors Guild of India Sanjay Kapoor, President of Press Association Jai Shankar Gupta, President of Delhi Union of Journalists S K Pande, President of Working News Cameramen’s Association S N Sinha, PCI’s former President Anand K Sahay, former Secretary-General Anant Bagaitkar, former Vice-president Sri Krishna and former Treasurer Arun K Joshi.