As the Finance Ministry decided to restrict the unauthorised access of journalists into its premises in the North Block, some sections of the Lutyens media began to spread false propaganda stating that the central government places restrictions on the flow of information to press.
Joining hands with the press, CPI-M general secretary Sitharam Yechury resorted to spreading misinformation citing an Indian Express article. He stated that the government has resorted to denying access to journalists as it has lied and fudged data. He also accused the government of destroying the right to information by denying due access to journalists.
When you lie and fudge data, you have a lot to hide. In an era where transparency should be the norm, this govt wants to deny due access to journalists. No surprise as it has worked actively to destroy the Right to Information at each step. https://t.co/8o6LIBKPjH
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) July 10, 2019
Editor Guild of India’s Chief Shekhar Gupta’s ‘The Print‘, which has a habit of peddling fake news once again peddled half-truths in its reports claiming that Nirmala Sitharaman had restricted the entry of journalists into the finance ministry.
Budget done but Nirmala Sitharaman restricts entry of journalists into finance ministry
— ThePrint (@ThePrintIndia) July 8, 2019
The Congress Party too, just like its former President Rahul Gandhi relied on half-truths to target the government. In a tweet, the Congress party called it an ‘unprecedented move’ and claimed that the BJP government has limited press freedom and control the information that the public receives.
In an unprecedented move by the Finance Ministry but highly predictable by the BJP govt, the press, including accredited journalists, will now face restricted access to FM. Once again the BJP govt limits press freedom & controls the info public receives. https://t.co/mtw2wX365d
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 10, 2019
However, the Finance Ministry has rejected any such rumours of ‘banning’ or ‘restricting’ the entry of journalists inside the North Block. Instead, the Finance Ministry has brought a new set of rules for an organised flow of information between the media and the government. The new rules by the Finance Minister will bring ease to reporters as new facilities have been set up for effective information flow to the media.
The Finance Ministry’s new regulation states that a new procedure has been introduced to streamline the entry of media persons inside the premises of the North Block. The Finance Ministry has even set up an air-conditioned waiting area. Further, refreshments such as tea, coffee are being provided to the journalists in regular interval.
The process has been further streamlined with issuing of appointments to the media personnel including PIB accredited card holders. Once an appointment has been scheduled, journalists will need no separate entry passes to enter the premises. No other restrictions or ban have been put by the Finance Ministry as claimed by the media.
Although it is true that accredited journalists will also need to make appointments now to meet finance ministry officials, such provisions are already in place at other ministries like defence and PMO. The requirement to take appointment is an additional step that the journalists will have to take, but that can’t be termed as restrictions in the flow of information and denying access.
Earlier government-accredited journalists were allowed to enter the finance ministry offices in North Block without any prior appointment. But this access is restricted every year before the budget presentation to prevent leaking of sensitive information. But this year the ministry did not lift the restriction after the budget was presented. Instead, the ministry decided that accredited journalists will need an appointment before entering the ministry offices.