In what is being seen as an attempt to curb media freedom, the Kerala State Home Department has come out with several regulations for the media, imposing restrictions on the existing ways of functioning.
The regulation is for taking reactions or television sound bytes of the Chief Minister and Ministers while covering events they are participating in and also for getting their reactions while they are coming out of their offices in the Secretariat. The circular has been issued by Home Secretary Subrata Biswas on November 15. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also holds the Home Ministry portfolio in the state.
The order bans media from taking reactions from the CM, Ministers and other high profile people while they are at public functions organised by government or non-government organisations, without prior permission. â€śThe present way of forcing the CM and other high profile people to give reaction will not be allowed without prior intimation to the Information and Public Relations Department,â€ť it says.
According to the circular, media persons will be allowed entry to those venues after permission is granted by the I&PRD and they have to be informed in advance if the media wishes to have an interaction. According to the circular, interactions with CM and others at any public events will be pre-decided by the I&PRD who will inform the media. In the event that the department does not have time to inform the media, the organisers can inform. However, all interactions will be allowed only at a pre-determined place.
If the media wishes to interact CM and others at places like airport, railway station, government guest houses and the same, I&PRD has to be informed. The department then has to get in touch with the authorities in charge of the venue and then decide if an interaction at a specific location inside the venue can be allowed. â€śThe unnecessary rush by the media to get reactions from CM and other high profile persons even causes security problems. At present there is no scientific protocol existing for this,â€ť the order says.
The circular has also made it mandatory that only those journalists with state accreditation or entry pass will be allowed to enter any sections under the PRD. The media persons who donâ€™t have either of this can enter Secretariat during the time allotted for visitors. At the district level, invites for media persons to cover events and information dissemination will be given through District Information Offices only.
A mobile app can be developed for informing media about CM's press meet and the cabinet meetings, says the order.
The order is based on recommendations of the Justice PS Antony Commission.
The government appointed the Commission to probe in to sleaze tapes aired by Malayalam television channel Mangalam channel. The Commission looked into airing of an audio clip in which Minister AK Saseendran allegedly engaged in a lewd conversation with a woman.