The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has raised its concern following the Government of Andhra Pradesh's call for journalists in the state to stop spreading 'false, baseless and defamatory news with malafide interest'.
The order passed last week (30 October) enables departmental secretaries to file cases of defamation against the media for references deemed objectionable.
The INS states, "While it is the right of the government to seek redress for wrong or defamatory reportage, giving the bureaucracy such sweeping powers will have a chilling effect on the media and vitiate the atmosphere in which the Press should function in a vibrant democracy."
It adds, "The society appeals to the Government of Andhra Pradesh to revisit its decision so that the rights of the Press are not circumscribed, and the media is able to perform its tasks fearlessly."
The order issued by the AP Government on 30 October makes the department head of the media house responsible for any baseless statements against a department in the government. The department head has to submit a factual rejoinder for the same.