NEW DELHI: In a marked shift from the past, the Ministry of Home Affairs is now insisting that journalists accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB) will have to get their police verification done every year for renewal, a move that may make it difficult for the scribes to have easy access to Central ministries and departments.
The MHA has asked PIB to ensure that all accredited journalists, numbering over 2,500, must have police verification at the time of yearly renewal of their official card, which gives them uninterrupted access to the various ministries and departments. The MHA move is said to be a direct fallout of the Oil Ministry espionage case in which a journalist is an accused.
“As per the agreed procedure for endorsing MHA validation of press identity cards issued for enabling entry into the government buildings under MHA security cover, the agreed procedure is that the PIB would seek the approval of Chief Security Officer, MHA.” “These endorsements are also to be made after police verification of the mediapersons concerned on a yearly basis,” said the MHA communique to the PIB.
Until now, while police verification was a must for new accreditation it was not required for renewals. The MHA conveyed that it had been observed that the police verification procedure was not followed before making endorsements of the Chief Security Officer on press identity cards issued in 2015. It added that before the PIB makes endorsements of MHA’s Chief Security Officer on the Press Identity Cards it may obtain prior approval of CSO, MHA.
“Also, such request for approval is to be accompanied by police verification reports of individual mediapersons,” the letter stated.
An MHA official said that police verification of any journalist cannot be a life-long affair and hence a discussion has been going on whether to make it compulsory for every year, every three years or every five years.