Set up tribunal, issue licence to scribes: Liberhan report

Set up tribunal, issue licence to scribes: Liberhan report


He recommended that journalists, like doctors, lawyers and accountants, should also be issued licences, which could be invalidated in case they commit any professional misconduct.

After the Opposition BJP and other parties stalled the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament over the alleged leakage of the probe panel’s report to a section of the press on Monday, Justice Liberhan snubbed mediapersons at his residence in Chandigarh. He angrily reacted when a TV journalist asked him if the report was leaked by him. He said what the media was doing had saddened him.

His report on the demolition of the disputed structure, too, has critical remarks about the role of a certain section of the media during the build-up to the incident on December 6, 1992.

Liberhan stated in his voluminous report that diverse sections of the press had reported the events leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid “with one or the other values, agendas or opinions”. He went on to add that “a section of the media, notably the local and vernacular press”, presented “half-baked information and theories” ahead of the demolition. “Some journalists were naturally inclined towards one side of the dispute, while the others sided with the opposing philosophy,” he observed.

“It is highly desirable that journalists ought to be granted licences, just like the practitioners of other learned professions and ought to be subject of disciplinary action, including suspension of the right to work as journalists on grounds of proven professional misconduct,” Justice Liberhan stated in his report that the government tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

He noted that media in India had no professional standards body capable of effectively dealing with “yellow journalism”. He also observed that the Press Council of India at present had “no authority to hear complaints from persons aggrieved of questionable reporting and effectively punishing a mischievous journalist”.

The Supreme Court judge, who took 17 years to probe the demolition of the Babri mosque, also strongly recommended a statutory body on the lines of the Medical Council of India and the Bar Council of India. He opined that the proposed body should have a permanent tribunal to entertain and decide on complaints against individual journalists or against newspapers, TV or radio channels.

The government agreed with Justice Liberhan’s views on the role of media. The ministry of home affairs in its action taken report stated that it would request the ministry of information and broadcasting and the ministry of law to examine the “desirability and feasibility” of establishing a tribunal or regulatory body to control the media.

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