HC stays PCI decision rejecting INS nomination for membership

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New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has stayed the Press Council of India (PCI)’s decision regarding rejection of nomination given by the Indian Newspapers Society (INS) for filling up vacancies in its 13th term.

The court order came on a plea filed by INS challenging rejection of nomination of Hormusji N. Cama, owner of Mumbai Samachar weekly and a member of the INS, in the category of medium newspapers.

“Till the next date of hearing, no steps will be taken pursuant to order dated March 20, 2018 insofar as Respondent No. 3 (Cama) is concerned,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher said in its order delivered on Tuesday.

The court issued notice to the PCI and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and sought their response within three weeks on the INS plea and listed the matter for July 30 for further hearing.

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The plea alleged that the PCI Chairman misread the provisions of the Press Council Act and “wrongly exercised” its power in rejecting the nomination.

The 12th PCI was constituted in October 2014 for a three-year tenure. In November 2017, media organisations that are members of the PCI, including the INS, had sent names of those who would represent them at the regulatory body.

Apart from the Chairman, the PCI has 28 members, which includes five parliamentarians, besides one representative each of the Bar Council of India, University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Sahitya Akademi. The other 20 members represent various media organisations, including journalists, proprietors and news agencies.

The petition said that the Chairman was required to invite the panel of names from notified associations for filling up 20 out of 28 vacancies in the PCI and out of those 20, six were to be filled up from among owners or managers of big, small and medium newspapers.

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“Although the PCI Chairman took the view that the panel was defective as only eight names were provided, yet he purportedly examined the eligibility of each individual name in the panel,” the plea said, adding that the Chairman proceeded to hold that out of the eight names, Cama and Kalyan Barooah were ineligible. Rest of the six were held eligible, it said.

The petition said Cama was a member of the PCI in its 12th term and was seeking nomination to the council in the 13th term.

The INS, which comprises owners of big, medium and small newspapers in India, has sought a direction to the PCI Chairman to recall and set aside the March 20 decision and refrain from taking any steps in furtherance of the decision.

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It also sought a direction to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to not take any step in furtherance of the March 20 decision.

–IANS

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