New Delhi, Aug 21: The Editors’ Guild of India Wednesday came out against Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari’s view that journalists should be tested and licensed to practice the profession and said “it is a recipe for the total state control of the media”.
“The reporting of facts and the expression of ideas is the right of every citizen, and to require the passing of a test and the possession of a licence issued by the government would be a violation of the very concept of freedom,” Editors’ Guild of India president N. Ravi said in a statement.
“People with varying qualifications, ideas and interests should be allowed unrestricted access in the exercise of their right to free speech through the media,” he said.
“In this age of citizen journalists, bloggers and social media and Internet users, it would be ridiculous to introduce any restriction on who should practice journalism even if it were possible to enforce it,” he said.
According to him, licensing of journalists is an obviously undemocratic practice that has been condemned repeatedly by international human rights organisations, including the Inter American Court of Human Rights.
“Requirements such as membership of a particular organisation, specific qualifications and licences issued by the government are tools used by totalitarian states to control the media,” he said.
“The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 19 (1) of the constitution and it is open to every citizen to practice it through the media subject only to restrictions on the grounds specified in Article 19 (2),” added Ravi.