NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India issued a statement condemning the Ministry of Finance’s decision to deny journalists, including government-accredited ones, access to its offices in North Block, without prior appointment. Urging Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to withdraw the decision, the Guild said the order was a gag on ‘media freedom’ and can result in a fall in India’s global press freedom rankings.
“The Guild has no dispute with the ministry that journalists should behave with restraint and responsibility while enjoying their access to the finance ministry. But a blanket order is not the answer,” read a statement released by the Guild.
“Journalists do not go to government offices to enjoy the comforts and hospitality of visitors’ rooms designated for them. They go to perform their challenging job of news gathering,” it added. The Indian Women Press Corps, Press Association and Press Club of India also issued a joint statement saying the decision was not only ‘arbitrary’ but also hampered the freedom of press.
News and information gathering is the fundamental duty of a journalist and the decision of the ministry to restrict journalists from accessing information totally goes against it and this means that the journalists are being prevented from doing their fundamental as well as professional duty,” said the joint statement.