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`The public should teach erring newspapers a lesson'

By T.S. Ranganna

Bangalore Oct. 30. The Chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice K. Jayachandra Reddy, said today that there was a need for expanding the jurisdiction of the Council to punish newspapers and periodicals which published defamatory and insinuatory reports that harmed the interests of individuals and institutions.

Mr. Reddy, who presided over the sittings of an inquiry committee of the Council for considering 46 cases in southern States here, told The Hindu that the Press Council of India Act should be amended to give it more powers and expand its jurisdiction to curb publication of such reports.

He said there were 20 codes of conduct for journalists and they should adhere to them. If complainants felt that they did not get the justice or relief even after approaching the Council, they could go to criminal courts or file suits for damages against newspapers and periodicals, he added.

When his attention was drawn to the agenda of the inquiry committee, which has listed 46 complaints, out of which 13 were against Hai Bangalore, three against Lankesh Patrike, Kannada weeklies, and three against Abhimanyu, a fortnightly published from Bangalore, Mr. Reddy said: "The public should teach a lesson to erring newspapers."

He said the Council had written to the Centre's Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity to stop releasing advertisements to erring newspapers and periodicals, and added that he would consider asking State governments to stop supplying newsprint to them.

The press enjoyed full freedom and should promote a progressive and peaceful society. It should be objective in reporting events. The medial could do a yeoman service in the fields of development, education, and medicine, he added.

He said freedom of the press was encouraged and protected, but some newspapers were not observing the codes. He admitted that newspapers had a duty to criticise public institutions which were not discharging their duties. But they should not destroy the institutions, he added.

Among prominent persons who have complained to the Council, which will hold sittings tomorrow, are ministers such as H.C. Srikantiah, K.B. Koliwad, R.V. Deshpande, and Basanagouda Patil Yatnal (against Hai Bangalore), and K.H. Hanume Gowda, MLA (against Jana Mitra of Hassan).

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