ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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CIVIL LIBERTIES- Policemen and Journalists

Policemen and Journalists A G Noorani IT is time that policemen and journalists discuss and adopt a code which clearly lays down the rights, duties and powers of both sides. Incidents of assaults on journalists and camera men are not matters for any code. They constitute criminal offences but it is significant that not a single policeman has yet been prosecuted. The code, however, is needed not for such obvious derelictions and wrongs. It is needed for the ambiguous situation where the law is either vague or obsolete. A policeman represents a public office. a journalist also performs a public function as the courts have re- cognised. He is no interloper. Yet he is treated as one by the police quite often. On December 31, 1983 the secretary of the Editors' Guild issued a statement criticising the trearment meted out by the Delhi police to the editor of a local newspaper. So did the FUCL. The Guild's statement hears quotation because it sets out the facts: It is said that the SHO, Karol Bagh police station, insisted on knowing the source of a story published in the Hindi daily Punjab Kesari and on the reluctance of the editor to disclose it, the SHO threatened him with arrest. It may be noted that the editor while expressing his inabiliy to disclose the source, readily agreed to publish any version of the police in that connection but the officer was not satisfied with that. It is regrettable that the police should interfere in this manner with the freedom of expression.

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