Bhubaneshwar, April 13, 2018: Even though freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India, in actual practice media freedom is gradually being restricted due to various forms of litigations initiated against journalists, media house and bloggers. As a result, freedom of expression is largely
Freedom of expression encompasses media freedom to strengthen democracy by the public interest initiative by the media. However, litigation like civil and criminal defamation, charges of sedition, contempt of Court and pressure to disclose sources of information are increasingly used by state and non-state actors in the process of media reporting. It requires litigations support in the Court in the form of pro-bono legal service, so that the fourth pillar of democracy has a wider space to exercise its freedom.
In a conference on media legal defense organised by CLAP Legal Services Institute at Press Club of Odisha, it has been observed by the representatives of media that the increasing trend of litigation to curtail freedom of media requires civil society initiative to support journalists when they are subjected to litigations in the Court of
Speaking on the occasion, former Retd. Judge of Odisha High Court, Justice A.S. Naidu, observed that in India, the space for media freedom is by and large available as the judiciary often protects the media in litigation Sophie Pollak and Patrick Regan of Media Legal Defense Initiative; UK said that restriction on media on various pretexts is a world-wide phenomenon. India is no exception to this worldwide trend. They shared litigation support by Media Legal Defence Initiative in various countries of the world.
In order to protect the greater interest of the journalists, media houses and bloggers so that they can express freely especially on public interest issues, the CLAP Legal Services Institute shall arrange high-quality legal services by engaging eminent lawyers to conduct the cases, said Dr Bikash Das, President of CLAP Legal Services Institute. Dr Das said that while CLAP has documented as many as 376 cases field against journalists in the year 2016 and 2017, it has supported 25 cases to secure justice for journalists.
On this occasion, Senior Journalists Arun Panda, Debendra Prusty, Sandeep Sahu, Dikshya Tiwari, Sujata Singh, S.N Ansari, Mahesh Sharma, Shilpi Ashok and Chitta Mishra discussed about the implications of litigations against Journalist. Former judge of CBI Court H.B.Das, Prof. P.K. Sarkar, Snigdha Panigrahi, Sheela Patnaik, Dr.
Bikash Das spoke on the legal dimensions of press freedom. Sangeeta Majhi, Vice president, CLAP Legal Service Institute offered the vote of thanks at the end of the programme.