27 October, 2020

'Police Cannot Interfere'

Will the Control of Organised Crime Bill impinge on press freedom? Justice P.B. Sawant, chairperson, Press Council of India, speaks to

'Police Cannot Interfere'
What is your view on the controversial bill?

What I find missing is the definition of 'abetment'. The bill must contain a provision that abetment will be considered an abetment only when the person concerned has not only the knowledge but has willingly participated in the activity. But I have no doubt that when the courts are interpreting, they will insist upon it.

Journalists fear that the words 'harbour' or 'conceal' may militate against the right to secrecy of sources.

There seems to be confusion between disclosing a source of information and being a source. When the reporter is a witness, he can't be forced by the Press Council to disclose information. But if justice can't be done otherwise, he is bound to give evidence in the court—on what he has seen and not what others have told him.

Reporters often communicate with criminals. Will this now attract prosecution?

Only if the communication is done with a view to assist in the committing of the crime. The definition needs to be interpreted accordingly. The mere interviewing of a gang...



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