Editors Guild of India
November 8, 2019
The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to delegate powers to the secretaries of different departments to file complaints and lodge cases against the media through the public prosecutor against published or broadcast news items that they consider defamatory.
The Guild believes that such blanket powers to the top civil servants in each of the departments of the state government will be prone to misuse and their rampant application will do grievous damage to the freedoms of the media. The Guild has always upheld the principles of free, fair and responsible journalism. But such powers, earlier exercised only by the information commissioner, are now delegated to all secretaries and this will seriously undermine the functioning of the media.
The Guild urges the Andhra Pradesh Government to withdraw this order. Criminal defamation is bad enough by itself, in the hands of individuals. If the state were to employ it with its own limitless resources, it will amount to censorship by another name.