The Centre has said that it does not subscribe to views of “foreign non-government organisation” Reporters Without Borders, whose World Press Freedom Index ranked India at the bottom.
What did the government say?
- Various reasons cited by the government —
- The government has clarified that it does not agree to the conclusions drawn by the organisation for various reasons.
- Reasons include very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, etc.
- Does not maintain specific data with respect to arrests of journalists —
- The government further clarified that it does not maintain specific data with respect to arrests of journalists, since it falls under the purview of the state government.
- Police and public order are state subjects.
- State governments are responsible for prevention, investigation of crimes and for prosecuting criminals.
- The National Crime Records Bureau does not maintain specific data with respect to arrest of journalists.
About World Press Freedom Index –
- It has been published every year since 2002 by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders.
- Based in Paris, RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF). OIF is a 54 french speaking nations collective.
- The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
- The parameters include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
- In the year 2022, India had dropped to two places on the World Press Freedom Index to be ranked 150th out of 180 countries.
What is ‘Index Monitoring Cell’?
- The Index Monitoring Cell (IMC) was set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry with stakeholders to improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.
- The 15-member committee had four journalists and government functionaries. Chaired by Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau, the committee has 10 government employees.
Recommendations of IMC –
- Among the key recommendations is the decriminalising of defamation. India is one of the few countries in the world to criminalise defamation.
- The panel has also recommended that consent of the Press Council of India is a prerequisite before filing an FIR against the media or a publication.