Never short of surprises, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson justice Markandey Katju sprang another one when he termed as “incorrect” the Supreme Court order upholding Mumbai high court verdict, imposing a fine of Rs 100 crore on Times Now channel in a defamation case.
Known for his forceful proposition of bringing in TV channels under the ambit of the PCI which should be provided much “more teeth”, Katju sought a reconsideration of the order in the Times Now case, saying imposition of the Rs 100 crore fine was “grossly disproportionate” to the offence.
“I’m of the view that they are incorrect and require to be reconsidered,” he said at a seminar during the National Press Day celebrations.
Times Now had made a mistake of showing the photograph of justice PB Sawant instead of justice PK Samanta in connection with the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam for which an apology was given several times. Making it clear that he was against use of “harsh measures” against the media, Katju said if TV channels did not want to come under the PCI they should choose another body like the proposed lokpal.
Speaking on the occasion, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said self-regulation by the media is the “best way forward” until the issue of regulating it is debated by the people and the opinion of the majority is heard.
Meanwhile, the issue of self-regulation by the media took another hit when Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Justice Katju said self-regulation had failed.
Calling for a White paper on the issue of self-regulation, Ansari said the ongoing debate on the subject should involve all stakeholders. “Our democracy is poorer without active media watch groups engaged in objective analyses of the media, discerning prejudices and latent biases, and subjecting the media to a dose of their own medicine.”