Maharashtra forms panel for law on mediapersons' safety

Mumbai : Facing criticism over the killing of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, the Maharashtra government Wednesday set up a group of senior ministers to look into various aspects of a proposed special legislation to protect mediapersons.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the government was “serious” about the issue of journalists’ safety.

“There was a broad consensus and unanimity (in the cabinet) that there should be a law to protect journalists,” Chavan told a packed press conference here Wednesday.

However, he added that there was need for an arrangement where complaints against journalists can be tackled as well.

He said nobody wanted to bar the media from carrying out its legitimate duties, but the fourth estate is expected to be “responsible and accountable”.

Chavan said the group of ministers would consider some “enabling provisions” to ensure that the legislation is not misused.

To a question whether he was buying time instead of promulgating an ordinance, he reacted sharply and said: “This is your assumption,” and declined to comment further.

To a query over when the group of ministers would submit its report, Chavan said that in his meeting with a delegation of mediapersons Monday, he had assured them that the draft of the proposed legislation will be discussed by the state cabinet.

“It was discussed today and I am sharing the details with you. I have also assured that the bill would be tabled in the monsoon session of the legislature and I maintain what I said,” Chavan said.

The monsoon session of the Maharashtra assembly will start next month.

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