NEW DELHI: The Centre does not agree to conclusions drawn by Reporters Without Borders about press freedom in India for various reasons, including very low sample size and little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In a written reply to a question on India being placed at 142 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, compiled and published by the Reporters Without Borders this year, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the adoption of the methodology by the publisher of the report is "questionable and non-transparent".
"The World Press Freedom Index is published by a foreign non government-organisation, Reporters Without Borders. The government does not subscribe to its views and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organisation for various reasons, including very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, lack of clear definition of press freedom, among others," he said.
The minister asserted that the government is committed to ensure right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Replying to questions on the safety and freedom of journalists as well as on Tripura police recently booking 102 people, including media persons, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, he said, "Police and public order are state subjects under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, and the state governments are responsible for prevention, detection, registration and investigation of crime and for prosecuting the criminals through their law enforcement agencies."
The central government attaches "highest importance" to the safety and security of "every citizen of the country, including journalists", he said.
"An advisory specifically on safety of journalists was issued to states/UTs on October 20, 2017, requesting them to strictly enforce the law to ensure the safety and security of media persons," Thakur added.