Make public paid-news report: CIC to PCI

Make public paid-news report: CIC to PCI

The Press Council of India has constituted two member sub- committee comprising eminent journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and K Sreenivas Reddy to probe the phenomenon of paid news following allegations that publicity material of some politicians camouflaged as news was being published by some media organisations.

An RTI applicant had demanded from the Press Council the copy of report submitted by the sub-committee and communications exchanged on the issue besides other information.

The Council first refused to provide information saying it was seeking legal opinion on disclosing the report and providing it under the RTI Act. Later, it asked for additional fee for providing it. The applicant stated that he has not received any such letter and the report should be published as proactive disclosure mandated under the law.

The Council did not cite any provisions of the RTI Act while denying the information which is required as per the provisions of the transparency law.

"This (suo motu disclosure) appears to be a reasonable demand and the Commission under its powers under Section 19(8)(a)(iii) directs the PIO to ensure that the report is placed on the website of the Council before 10 October 2011. This would be in fulfilment of its obligation under Section 4(1)(b)(xvii) of the RTI Act," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi held while directing the council to provide it before September 30.

He said RTI Act is a fundamental right of citizens and denial of information can "only be on the basis" if it is exempt under Section 8(1) of the Act.

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