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Katju takes potshots at ‘weak’ government

Markandey Katju took on the government for not deciding to arm the media watchdog with more powers and bring the electronic media under its ambit. The Press Council of India chairman called the coalition governments were ‘weak’ for the decision they made.

Katju said that he had already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking amendments to the Press Council Act of 1968, “I have made my recommendation, but I don’t think the government is going to take any decision.”

Katju also pointed out that similar recommendations had been made in the past by former PCI chairpersons. But as he puts it, “Nothing has come out of it as evidently, the electronic channels are very powerful and a coalition government means a weak government. If there has been a strong government, it would have done it... the ball is in the court of the government.”

The body in question, as of now only has rights to admonish and censure, which according to Katju is hardly much. The two amendments proposed by him would give the body more power.

The other amendment is to bring electronic media under the ambit of the Council.

On the issue of self-regulation by the electronic media, he said it was not always sufficient.

Katju also said that he did not agree with the government’s reported stand that self-regulation should be given a chance and said societies have learnt that laws are required where self-regulation fails.

On the cartoon controversy involving West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Katju said Banerjee must learn to function in a democratic and more mature manner.

“I think Mamata Banerjee should have behaved in a more mature manner. She is no more a street fighter, she is the chief minister... the manner in which she has behaved is totally unacceptable.”
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