The Editors Guild of India has "unequivocally" condemned the Attorney General's remarks before the Supreme Court pertaining to the documents based on which the media had reported on the Rafale deal, saying any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the media is as "reprehensible" as asking journalists to disclose their sources.
The Editors Guild, in a statement, also denounced "threats" against the media in the matter and urged the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media's freedom and independence.
"The Editors Guild of India unequivocally condemns the Attorney General's comments before the Supreme Court pertaining to documents based on which the media, including The Hindu, had reported on the Rafale deal," the statement said.
Attorney General KK Venugopal on Wednesday sought dismissal of a petition for a review of the top court's earlier judgment on allegations over the Rafale deal on the ground that the fresh petition had relied on documents that were "stolen" from the defence ministry and that investigations were going on to find out if it was a crime and violative of the Official Secrets Act, it said.
"Although the Attorney General later clarified that the investigation and contemplated action would not be initiated against journalists or lawyers who used these documents, the Guild is perturbed over such threats," the statement said.
These will intimidate the media in general and curb its freedom to report and comment on the Rafale deal in particular, the Editors Guild said.
"Any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the media is as reprehensible as asking the journalists to disclose their sources," it said.
"The Guild denounces these threats and urges the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media's freedom and independence," the statement said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and favourtism. The government has denied the charges.