After media fraternity lashed out at the Finance Ministry for disallowing journalists inside the ministry premises, North Block, it has clarified that no ban has been made on the entry of media persons and added that a procedure has been put in place for streamlining and facilitating the entry of media persons inside North Block.
It assured the journalists to have made arrangements for them outside Gate No.2 with all the necessary arrangements. The ministry, however, reiterated that entry of media persons including the ones with PIB Accredited card will be on the basis of prior appointment and that no other restrictions have been imposed on them.
On Thursday, journalists could be seen protesting against the ministry for gagging press freedom. This happened because of the new rules issued by the finance ministry in a notice which said the entry of all media persons even the ones holding PIB accredited card will be on the basis of prior appointment.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman supporting the move tweeted that she was only trying to streamline the system and clarified that there wasn’t any blanket ban on journalist’s entry. The journalists in response claimed that such a ban would limit the accessibility of information and restrict them only to the porch of the finance ministry.
The Editors Guild of India which is the regulatory body for newspapers also joined the rebel journalists in solidarity and urged the government to withdraw curbs that have reduced journalists’ access to officials in the finance ministry. In an official statement, the Editors Guild said the order by the finance ministry was a gag on media freedom and could even result in a further fall in India’s global press freedom rankings.
Some senior journalists had also met Sitharaman after they were not allowed inside the ministry to maintain the secrecy of the Budget or during the quarantine period. However, the day the Budget is presented, the rule comes to an end.
It should be noted that PIB (Press Information Bureau) cards grant access to journalists to all ministries and government building barring offices of PMO, defence and intelligence and investigative agencies.