NEW DELHI: The Home Ministry has asked all states to ensure safety and security of journalists in exercising freedom of speech and expression, in the wake of incidents of attacks on mediapersons.
In an advisory to the states, the home ministry also said all cases of attacks on journalists should be investigated promptly to ensure that criminals get "persecuted in a time- bound manner".
"Fourth Estate is an important institution of the democracy. It ensures that citizens are able to express their opinions freely without any fear and coercion as provided under the Constitution of India.
"It is the duty of the state to ensure safety and security of the journalists who ensure that the Fourth Estate discharges this key duty," the advisory said.
The central government's missive was sent in the wake of the killing two journalists, Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru and Shantanu Bhowmik in Agartala.
The ministry said from time to time, incidents of attacks on journalists and mediapersons were reported and all such cases need to be investigated promptly "to ensure that criminals get persecuted in a time-bound manner".
"States should also take all preventive and deterrent action as deemed required. States are already empowered to provide security to individuals based on threat perceptions," it said.
The ministry said while police and public order are state subjects under the Constitution, in view of its importance, it is drawing the attention of the state governments and Union Territory administrations from time to time towards the need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime.
"The state administrations are requested to... ensure that a peaceful environment prevails, allowing journalists/media personnel to exercise freedom of speech and expression in their professional pursuit; ensure that the investigations are concluded in a time-bound manner and public trust in criminal justice system is maintained," it said.