IJU questions govt’s intention to block access to information

HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI, Jul 14: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has questioned the “government’s manoeuvres to block the media’s and the public’s right to access to information.”
The criticism comes in the wake of the finance ministry’s recent restrictions on journalists – even those who are holding PIB accreditation cards – to enter its premises to carry out their duties.
IJU President D Amar and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit in a statement said the restrictions, by which the journalists would now need to seek appointment first to enter the ministry’s premises, “make hollow the government’s commitment to a free press, and even makes a mockery of its accreditation facility.”
The IJU leadership said the government “must remember that the public’s right to access to information is
an inherent right in any democracy” and that imposing restrictions on journalists from gathering information amounted to “an attack on the freedom of the press.”
“The media,” the IJU said, “is well-versed with its responsibility, and the finance ministry’s reasoning of asking journalists to wait in a room outside North Block Gate No 2 till a bureaucrat agrees to meet them for its better functioning, is a sham.”
It said the intent behind such a move was “clearly to keep a close watch on the journalists and block them from doing investigative stories, which in a way makes the government answerable.”
The union has demanded that the finance ministry immediately take back its order of imposing restrictions on movement of journalists by accepting that its order does amount to censorship.
“The government must ensure that its commitment to press freedom, vital to our democracy, is not compromised with,” it said.