The Editor's Guild of India on Saturday said it was "surprised and shocked" by the Delhi High Court's suggestion, asking the Government to form a three-member committee to pre-censor sting operations carried out by TV channels.
"If implemented, this suggestion of the court would introduce a draconian, judicially backed emergency by the backdoor and would trample the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution," the guild said in a statement in New Delhi.
While the guild is totally in agreement that sting operations should have stringent pre-telecast self-regulatory demands, the remedy suggested by the court is "a deadly one", it said.
"It would sound the death knell for the freedom of press enjoyed by the citizens of our democracy and exercised through the newspapers," Secretary General KS Sachidananda Murthy said.
The court has suggested that the committee should be headed by a retired judge and should have two government employees, including a police officer, to view the tapes and decide whether they should be aired or not.
"Obviously such committee would be controlled by the government of the day," Guild President Alok Mehta said.
The Guild is in favour of the news organisations having their own internal mechanism to decide on the public utility of a sting operation.
"The guild is optimistic that the judicial authorities, who have asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to constitute a censorship panel, would withdraw this order as it imperils freedom of the press and gives powers of court decreed censorship to the government," he said.