Ramesh Kumar declines to be part of panel to discipline media

 A committee constituted by Legislative Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad to discipline the media has hit a hurdle at the initial stage itself with its designated chairman, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar declining to be part of the panel.

In a letter addressed to Koliwad, copies of which were released to the media on Friday, Kumar stated that constitution of the committee will send a wrong message to the people that the legislature is trying to control the media. 

Kumar has suggested to Koliwad to invite representatives of print and electronic media for tea and sort out differences, if any, between legislators and the media through talks. Kumar stated that the Speaker had appointed him to chair the panel without consulting him. 

Kumar said he is of the view that the media cannot be regulated through legislation. “It is matter of professionalism and ethics. There should always be cordial relationship between the media and the legislature. Curtailing the freedom of the press is dangerous to democracy,” Kumar stated in his letter.

At the same time, the legislature need not function at the mercy of the media and the fourth estate should realise its public responsibility, he added.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Jagadish Shettar has said that none of his party legislators would be on the panel. In the legislative council, K S Eshwarappa had said on March 28 itself that the BJP would not nominate its MLCs on the panel. In the Assembly no such announcement was made by the BJP. But now Shettar, who is the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, has said that his party is not in favour controlling the media. 

Koliwad had announced the names of BJP MLAs Suresh Gowda and Raju Kage as the members of the 13-member panel. Suresh Gowda has already written to the Speaker stating that he is not ready to be a member of the panel. Kage was not available for comment. 

On Thursday, Koliwad had announced that he was not ready to reconsider his decision to constitute the committee.

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