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Government does not subscribe to World Press Freedom Index rankings: Anurag Thakur

The Central government does not subscribe to the views of ‘Reporters Without Borders’ nor does it agree with the organisation’s World Press Freedom Index rankings, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur informed the Parliament.

“The World Press Freedom Index is published by a foreign non-government organisation, called Reporters Without Borders, and the government does not subscribe to its views and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organisation,” Thakur said in a written response in the Rajya Sabha, The Indian Express reported.

Thakur was responding to a question by Congress MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh, he cited “very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent.”

Responding to Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai’s question on whether freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution of India and whether the right is absolute or if there are any restrictions on its use or misuse, Thakur said freedom of speech and expression is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to citizens under Article 19(1) with restrictions as stated in Article 19(2).

“Under the Article 19(2), the state is empowered to impose reasonable restrictions on the operation of the right in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence,” he stated.

The minister said that the Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body, was established to safeguard freedom of press and enhance the standards of Indian newspapers and news agencies in the country.

“In pursuance of its policy to uphold the freedom of press, the government does not interfere in the functioning of the press,” he added in response to a question by YSRCP member Adala Prabhakar Reddy.

Thakur further said the government places the highest priority on the safety and security of all citizens, including journalists.

He stated that an advisory on the safety of journalists was issued to states and union territories in October 2017, requesting they strictly enforce the law to ensure the safety and security of media personnel. News 9

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