Katju flays Nitish for gagging media

Chairman of Press Council of India (PCI) Justice Markandey Katju on Friday came down heavily on the Nitish regime for imposing an unwritten censorship on the media in the state.

“I have been told that most of the journalists here can’t write anything against the Bihar government…and those who dare to write against the present regime, he is transferred,” Justice Katju, known for his free and frank opinion, observed.

The PCI chief was addressing a gathering on the Patna University campus. He, however, added that though there was no such proof to substantiate his charge, but “this is the general feeling,” and, therefore, the government’s act of omission and commissions have gone unreported.

“This kind of gag on media is a violation of the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a). But the state government should realise that it has to function “under” the Constitution. It’s not “above” the Constitution,” the retired judge remarked and added that so long as he was the helm, he would try to stem the rot.

“Two days back, I had written to Maharashtra chief minister too, where journalists have been at the receiving end. Now that I have made aware of the media’s plight in Bihar, I will try to set things aright,” he added.

Though Justice Katju never took names, but his remarks against the Nitish regime saw an instant adverse reaction from the audience.

A motley group of students created a ruckus and started shouting, “Katju wapas jao (Go back Katju).”

But the PCI chief remained unperturbed. “I am from Allahabad. I won’t be cowed down by such threats. You don’t know me. I am not weak. You have locked horns with a wrong man. The way you have protested proves that whatever I have said is absolutely correct,” he gave it back to the youth leader.

“If I am wrong, persuade me logically. But if you try to rub me the wrong way, you are into trouble,” the PCI chairman warned the protesters.

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