MEDIA PERSONS AND MEDIA INSTITUTIONS
What’s in news?
- The President of India has given assent to the Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Bill, 2017.
- Maharashtra is the first state to pass legislation which ensures protection for journalists that is the only state with law to protect scribes.
- A media institution has been defined as any registered newspaper, news channel, news-based electronic outlet or news station establishment.
- A media person means a person whose principal vocation is that of a journalist, who is employed as a journalist, whether on a regular or contract basis.
- The bill considers violent attacks on media persons a non-bailable offence.
- The offence shall be cognizable (police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court) and triable by a first-class judicial magistrate.
- Anyone who commits or attempts to commit any act of violence against journalists or media houses shall be punished with jail terms up to three years or with a fine up to Rs 50,000 or with both.
- The assailant would also be liable to reimburse the medical expenditure incurred by the media persons in the attack.
- The offender is also liable to pay compensation for damage or loss caused to the property of the media person or the media house as determined by the court.
- According to the World Press Freedom Index 2019, India dropped two places on a global press freedom index to be ranked 140th out of 180 countries in the annual ‘Reporters Without Borders’.
- The Bill, passed by the Devendra Fadnavis government, has been pending for two years with the Centre and recommends punishment up to three years or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both in case of attack on media persons on duty.
- After the murder of journalist activist Gauri Lankesh in 2017, the union home ministry had asked all states to ensure the safety of journalists in exercising freedom of speech and expression.
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