Press Council neither ‘paper tiger’ nor regulator: Chairman

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Press Council of India (PCI) is “neither a paper tiger nor a regulator”, its Chairman C.K. Prasad said here on Tuesday, and added that the Council has only been trying to be a “facilitator” for press freedom.

Addressing a press conference on the eve of tghe council’s Golden Jubilee Celebration here on Wednesday, Prasad said: “In media, we are often described as a paper tiger…this is not true.”

The former judge cited the example of a PCI verdict, which has gone against an incumbent Union minister.

The PCI Chairman said: “We are not a regulator, as often suggested. I don’t like that word. The Council is not here for policing the media.”

But, he said, the delay in disposing of cases has been an issue before the PCI and steps have been taken accordingly to ensure that pending cases are disposed of fast.

“We disposed of about 1,000 cases during my tenure since November 2014. So far, we have only 282 cases pending and most of these are dated after April 1, 2016.”

“In fact, disposing of the old cases have helped pass the message that the Council means business and is not a paper tiger,” he stressed.

“The Press Council of India has achieved a major milestone by clearing all the backlog cases for the first time in its history,” he added.

Prasad said the PCI will celebrate ‘National Press Day’ and PCI Golden Jubilee on November 16 (Wednesday).

The PCI was established in 1966 on the recommendation of the First Press Commission.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will grace the session,” he informed.

The press council delegations from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka would be attending the function.

“Delegations from Pakistan are also expected…they have confirmed and now we are trying to arrange visas for them,” Prasad said.

PCI member C.K. Naik, a senior journalist, said as Bhutan and Afghanistan do not have any press councils, they would be represented at the Golden Jubilee functions by the representatives from their embassies here.

Answering questions, another PCI member, Ravindra Kumar, said the Council is also trying to prepare “guidelines for journalists working in conflict-hit regions like northeast India”.

In this connection a team of PCI has visited the northeastern states, including Manipur.

The Indian Press Council is trying to work out an “alliance” of all press or media councils of South Asian countries “to promote peace, fair and fearless journalism” in the region, Prasad said.

Among others senior journalist S. Nihal Singh will be honoured with the special “Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award” for “Outstanding Contribution Towards Journalism”, he said.

Senior journalist Arvind Kumar Singh, Xavier Seivakumar, T.P. Dhanesh and Pritam Bandyopadhyay have also been selected in different categories for the awards.

A special jury of the PCI also decided to honour senior media persons for their “outstanding contributions”. They include — Raghu Rai (photo journalist), Shetia Singh, P. Venkateswara Rao and Mrinal Pandey (senior journalists) and Harish Chandra Shukla (senior cartoonist).