Thursday, April 18, 2024

Editors Guild condemns suspension of Twitter accounts of Punjab journalists

The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday said it is deeply concerned about the arbitrary suspension of social media accounts of journalists and media organisations in Punjab.

The Guild alleged that the state government’s arbitrary actions under the pretext of maintaining security undermine press freedom.

The journalists’ body noted: “The official Twitter account of BBC Punjabi was withheld on March 27, though it was restored later in the day. Similarly, social media accounts of a senior staffer at the Indian Express as well as some other prominent journalists were also suspended. This has been part of the larger restrictions on internet services as well as orders of suspension of several social media accounts other than that of journalists, by the Govemment of Punjab since March 17th, as part of the man-hunt to arrest the radical preacher Amritpal Singh.”

It added: “The Guild is concerned that in the suspension of all these social media handles, no due processes were followed and they were carried out against the principles of natural justice. In the judgment of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India had expressly laid down that all reasonable efforts must be made to identify and notify the people whose information is sought to be blocked before access is restricted, as well as a right to appeal. No such process seems to have been followed in any of these shutdowns.”

The Guild has urged the state and Union governments as well as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), to act with restraint in all such cases, and base action if required on due diligence based on facts and in adherence to processes laid down by the Supreme Court of India.

“Currently, the widespread action against journalists and the larger media fraternity has created an atmosphere of fear in Punjab that is not conducive to free and fair journalism,” it observed.

The EGI also urged the authorities to release all the orders of suspension in the public domain, in the interest of transparency and the spirit of the law.

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