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World Press Freedom Index 2022

Context:

India has reached 150th position in the World Press Freedom Index, dropping further from its last year’s 142nd rank out of 180 countries.

Relevance:

GS II- Indian Constitution – historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the World Press Freedom Index?
  2. Highlights of the 2022 report
  3. Freedom of Press in India
  4. Freedom of Speech and Expression actually covers
  5. Status of Freedom of Press

What is the World Press Freedom Index?

  • World Press Freedom Index is an index published each year by the international journalism (non-profit body), Reporters Without Borders [also called Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF)].
  • RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
  • The World Press Freedom Index ranks countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
  • It is NOT an indicator on the quality of journalism.
  • The parameters used in the World Press Freedom Index include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

Highlights of the 2022 report

(a) Best performing countries

  • Norway– 1st
  • Denmark– 2nd
  • Sweden– 3rd

(b) Worst performers

  • North Korea remained at the bottom of the list, while Russia was placed at 155th position, slipping from 150th last year.
  • As per the global media watchdog, China climbed up by two positions ranking at 175th position, as compared to 177th position last year.

 (c) Performance in our neighbourhood

  • Besides India, its neighbours except Nepal have also slid down.
  • While Pakistan is at 157th position, Sri Lanka ranks at 146th, Bangladesh at 162nd and Maynmar at 176th position.

Freedom of Press in India

  • Article 19, said to be the foundation of Democratic rule in India, guarantees freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens only.
  • These freedoms are not absolute and they can all be curtailed by imposing some reasonable restriction.
  • Reasonable restrictions can be imposed (imposed only on the grounds mentioned in the constitution) only by authority of law and NOT by executive action alone.

Freedom of Speech and Expression actually covers:

  • Right to Information
  • Freedom of press
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to hoist the national flag
  • Right to demonstration or picketing, but not right to strike
  • Rights to Not Speak

Status of Freedom of Press

  • Unlike several countries such as USA, there is no separate provision guaranteeing the freedom of press, but the Supreme Court in Sakaal paper vs. Union of India case, has held that the freedom of press is included in the “freedom of expression” under Article 19(1) (a).
  • In Brij Bhushan case, SC clarified that there is no prior censorship on the media, i.e., no prior permission is needed.
  • 44th amendment, 1976 introduced Article 361A that provides protection to a person publishing proceeding of the Parliament and State Legislatures.
  • In the Indian Express case, it was clarified that the Freedom of Press includes:
    • Right to Information
    • Right to Publish
    • Right to Circulate
  • In 1997, the Prasar Bharti Act grants autonomy to Doordarshan and All India Radio (which means it can criticize the state policies and actions).
  • In 1966, Press Council of India was created to regulate the print media.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution (NCRWC) recommended that Freedom of Press be explicitly granted and not be left implied in the Freedom of Speech.

Source: The Hindu


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