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Editors Guild says use of Official Secrets Act against media 'reprehensible': Here's what experts have to say

Updated : March 07, 2019 10:10 PM IST

The Editors Guild of India and other media bodies on Thursday condemned the government's stand before the Supreme Court on the Rafale deal reportage and said any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the media was reprehensible.

The Guild, in a statement, denounced the "threats" against the media in the matter and urged the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media's freedom and independence.

"The Editors Guild of India unequivocally condemns the Attorney General's comments before the Supreme Court pertaining to documents based on which the media, including The Hindu, had reported on the Rafale deal," the statement said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal on Wednesday sought dismissal of a petition for a review of the apex court's earlier judgment on the Rafale deal on the ground that the fresh petition relied on documents "stolen" from the Defence Ministry and that investigations were going on to find out if it was a crime and violative of the Official Secrets Act, it said.

"Although the Attorney General later clarified that the investigation and contemplated action would not be initiated against journalists or lawyers who used these documents, the Guild is perturbed over such threats," the statement said.

These will intimidate the media in general and curb its freedom to report and comment on the Rafale deal in particular, the Guild said. "Any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the media is as reprehensible as asking the journalists to disclose their sources, it said.

CNBC-TV18 spoke to Shaina NC, spokesperson of BJP; Swapnil Kothari, senior lawyer; AK Bhattacharya, chief editor of Business Standard and Priyanka Chaturvedi, spokesperson of Congress, to understand how the centre might deal with this storm and find whether there is an attempt to intimidate the press.
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