On wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear on Monday a petition filed by a group of journalists seeking a direction to the Centre and Haryana for ordering a judicial probe into alleged assault on them and other media persons during a police operation to arrest ‘godman’ Rampal in Hisar.
“List it on Monday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Madan B Lokur and AK Sikri said.
The court’s order came as soon as senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for journalists, started his argument saying the matter pertained to assault on media persons in Haryana recently.
The plea filed by a group of media persons has sought punishment for “erring police officials” for resorting to lathi charge “without caution and care”.
It has also alleged there was an increasing tendency to “muzzle the press” by government authorities and sought “appropriate compensation” for affected journalists and framing of guidelines to ensure “free and fair functioning of the media”.
“The petitioners, who are media persons being victims and aggrieved to the unprovoked lathi charge on them in Hisar, during the stand-off between police and supporters of Rampal, are filing the present writ petition to seek justice for violation of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution and freedom of press which means absence of interference by the State with the media, except in so far as it is authorised by the Constitution and by enactments which are constitutionally valid,” the plea said.
Besides the incident at Hisar, it also referred to various recent incidents in which media persons have been attacked.
“It is surprising that, despite proper approval from their channels and local authority the journalists were targeted by police from behind and subjected to the unprovoked attack suddenly near Satlok Ashram near Barwala town of Haryana while they were covering the violent clash between sect followers and security forces…,” it said, adding a superior police officer first allowed them to go near the site and later resorted to ‘lathi charge’.