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PCI chief supports communication blockage in J&K citing national interest, PCI sings a different tune after media backlash

Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin had demanded that the restrictions on communication networks like the Internet, television, mobile phones, which according to her restricted journalists' right to do their professional work. PCI chief Justice Prasad had supported the restrictions on communication citing paramount national interest.

Press Council of India (PCI) chief Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, ex-Supreme Court judge, has now done a u-turn on his stand on communication blockage in Jammu & Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370. Earlier last week, the PCI chairman had sought intervention on behalf of the Council in a writ petition filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin in the Supreme Court on communication blockage in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

Bhasin had demanded that the restrictions on communication networks like the Internet, television, mobile phones, which according to her restricted journalists’ right to do their professional work. Justice Prasad had supported the restrictions on communication citing paramount national interest. Prasad, however, reportedly hadn’t consulted the 28-member general body of the council before approaching the SC.

Justice Prasad’s action was condemned by various press bodies like Editors Guild of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Indian Journalists Union and the Press Association. On Tuesday, the press organisations passed an unanimous resolution describing Justice Prasad’s decision to move the Supreme Court as “unilateral and arbitrary”. The various journalists associations also demanded that the PCI withdraws his intervening petition in the apex court. The Hindu Chairman N Ram criticised Justice Prasad’s move and called it ‘dystopia vision’ of media freedom.

However, following the severe backlash, the PCI said it would amend its earlier stance and would tell the Supreme Court that it does not approve of any sort of restrictions on the media. The PCI also said it will send a delegation to Kashmir on a fact-finding mission. Following which, it will submit a detailed report. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today has issued a notice to the Centre on Bhasin’s plea and sought a detailed reply from the Centre within 7 days.

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