Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held on 15 June, 2020
1. The Executive Committee Meeting began at 5:05 pm. Those who attended the meeting via Zoom were: Shekhar Gupta, A.K. Bhattacharya, Sheela Bhatt, Seema Chishti, Patricia Mukhim, T.N. Ninan, H.K. Dua, Raghav Bahl, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mukund Padmanabhan, S. Prasannarajan, Anant Nath, Prakash Dube, Naresh Fernandes and Vijay Naik.
2. The General Secretary, A.K. Bhattacharya, welcomed the EC members and explained the reasons for convening the digital meeting of the Committee on Zoom. The agenda items on the schedule for the holding of the AGM and the format in which this should be held were noted. The President, Shekhar Gupta, clarified that a company secretary’s views were being ascertained on the manner in which the AGM could be held. The Treasurer, Sheela Bhatt, explained that the accounts for the year were being finalised and audited. The tax returns too would be filed. Once the audited accounts are ready, these would be circulated to the members.
3. The President welcomed the executive committee members and asked them to address the various concerns of the Guild for immediate action.
4. EC Member, Prakash Dube, pointed out the demise of some former editors and underlined the need to send obituary notes to the families of the departed members. He promised to send the details of such deceased members along with the email addresses of their families.
5. Anant Nath brought up the proposed amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act and underlined the need for the Guild to submit its views on them. He agreed to circulate a fresh note on these amendments to help the Guild formulate its final views.
6. Rajdeep Sardesai referred to the many instances of how press freedom was being curbed by the authorities in Jammu & Kashmir. He would share relevant links with the EC members and a draft statement for the office-bearers to consider as a statement.
7. H K Dua referred to the sedition case being filed against Vinod Dua and wanted the Guild to take this up. Mukund Padmanabhan and Naresh Fernandes desired that the Guild should check with lawyers on sedition allegations against journalists and underlined the need to challenge criminal defamation in the Supreme Court. Raghav Bahl offered to check with lawyers on the nature of the case and whether the Guild should file a separate case or implead itself with the Vinod Dua case. The Committee also authorised Raghav Bahal to take the process for legal challenge to sedition forward and engage with lawyers on a pro bono basis. Raghav Bahal has circulated a quick note on the legal opinion.
8. Seema Chishti recommended that two separate documents be prepared by the Guild on sedition laws and the need for decriminalising the defamation law. Anant Nath and Mukund Padmanabhan agreed to circulate the existing notes on media laws after fine-tuning them so that these could be the basis for the document suggested by Seema Chishti.
9. Shekhar Gupta underlined the need to look into how the Guild should define a ‘journalist’ before releasing any documents or statements. T.N. Ninan said there could be guidelines that the office-bearers could follow while deciding whether to respond to a certain development with a statement.
10. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to all the members of the EC.