Attempt to ‘muzzle media’ draws flakPolitical parties, journalists’ bodies and organisations working in the field of freedom of speech and expression have expressed concern over Chief justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli’s order to the Press Council Nepal to probe news reports published by the Kantipur daily.
Political parties, journalists’ bodies and organisations working in the field of freedom of speech and expression have expressed concern over Chief justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli’s order to the Press Council Nepal to probe news reports published by the Kantipur daily.
They said that any efforts to pre-censor media are against constitutional provisions. The Bibeksheel Sajha Party has said its attention was drawn to a show cause notice and an interim order issued in the name of Kantipur Publications and the Press Council by the bench of Chief Justice Parajuli. In a statement on Tuesday, the party protested CJ Parajuli’s move to impose censorship for suppressing content questioning his integrity.
“We feel that the orders are motivated to restrict press freedom for protecting him [Parajuli],” read a statement issued Bibeksheel Sajha Spokesman Surya Raj Acharya on Tuesday. “The esteem and dignity of court, and other government bodies, can’t be preserved or maintained by imposing censorship on the press.”
The CJ’s move to issue ruling from his own bench in a case in which he himself
is a party goes against the judicial principle, the party remarked, adding that judicial impartiality and press freedom are indispensable in a democracy.
The Rastriya Janamorcha said the court order not only curbs the rights of the media but also those of political parties. Issuing a statement, Janamorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC demanded scrapping of the order.
“Media are reporting about the controversy surrounding the date of birth of the chief justice. Dr Govinda KC is also raising this issue. The order by Parajuli aims to protect himself,” the party stated. “Parajuli himself cannot handle cases against him.”
Press Chautari Nepal said that its attention was drawn towards the contempt charge against Kantipur for reporting the discrepancies in the birth date mentioned by CJ Parajuli in his official documents.
In a statement on Tuesday, the PCN said that publication and dissemination of any news report is the right of any media derived from the Freedom of Press guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal, a charter promulgated “with efforts of the media and professionals associated with the sector”. The journalists’ body said it would stand firmly against any interference with free press by any state organ.
Nepal Press Union expressed its concern over the legal process adopted on the contempt of court case. The NPU demanded that established procedures be followed if there is dissatisfaction concerning news reports carried by the media.
Freedom Forum, an organisation that promotes freedom of speech and expression, said the court’s order aimed at “muzzling the media” had alarmed the media fraternity.
IFJ expresses concern
KATHMANDU: The International Federation of Journalists has expressed serious concern over the interim order issued by the Supreme Court against Kantipur daily on a contempt of court case. Issuing a statement on Tuesday, IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The IFJ is concerned by the interim order issued by the Supreme Court in the court case involving Kantipur Daily. A ban on the publication of news amounts to censorship, which is unacceptable in a democracy.” A press council must work independently and should not be dictated its activities by the judicial power, the IFJ stated, urging the Supreme Court of Nepal to set aside the interim order and respect fundamental press freedom principles when issuing further orders related to media. (PR)