New Delhi: The Press Council of India or PCI today refuted allegations that its chairman had adopted a process to keep out certain media associations and candidates from the selection process while reconstituting the panel, saying the names were drawn from those submitted by the notified associations.
The PCI's reaction comes in the wake of the allegations by eight journalists' organisations claiming that its chairman had overlooked precedent and adopted a process to keep out certain media associations and candidates.
The PCI, in a release, today said that the names of all the nominees who have found a place in the new panel were given by the associations.
"If there is any doubt over the autonomy and neutrality of the Council, the blame, if at all, lies with the associations who have given the names of such persons.
"It is emphatically stated that the Chairman has not inducted any names of his own and all the names nominated by him have been given by the associations," the release said.
It also dubbed as "utterly false" the allegations against its chairman made yesterday by All India Newspaper Editors Conference, Indian Journalists Union, Indian Newspaper Society, Working News Cameramen Association, Hindi Samachar Patr Sammelan, National Union of Journalists (India), All India Small and Medium Newspapers Federation and Press Association.
They had also urged the government to intervene to "restore the credibility and sanctity" of the PCI.
In a joint statement, they had alleged that the action of the chairman has cast serious doubts over the autonomy and neutrality of the PCI, which is mandated to preserve and protect the freedom of the press.
The PCI, a statutory body that acts as a watchdog to oversee conduct of the print media, was reconstituted for three years in October 2014. Its term has ended in October last year.
According to the Press Council Act, the council shall consist of a chairman and 28 other members.
In the category of 'Working Journalist who are Editors', the names nominated by the three notified associations -- Hindi Samachar Patra Samellan, All India National Editor's Conference and Editors Guild of India -- were rejected on the ground for not fulfilling the mandatory requirement of submitting twice the number of six vacancies.
It said the fresh panel submitted by the Editors Guild of India was rejected because it had submitted only four names.
"It be clarified that the quota is for Editors and not individual associations and therefore it was rejected for the same reason," the release said.
It said names of six persons were picked in the category from 13 common names submitted by Hindi Samachar Patra Samellan and All India National Editor's Conference.
In the category of 'Working Journalist other than Editors', four associations were notified -- Press Association, Working News Cameraman's Associations, Indian Journalists Union and National Union of Journalists, it said.
Out of these four associations, it said the National Union of Journalists' panels "having dispute about office-bearer was rejected with two other nominees whose either did not prove his eligibility or stand was not clear in the process of nominations".
The PCI said the panels of only three associations --Press Association, Working News Cameraman's Associations and Indian Journalists Union -- were accepted having 10 common nominees in all their panels and names of seven persons were picked up against seven vacancies by draw of lots.
Nomination under the category of the Owners and Managers under "medium" category being sub-judice before the Delhi High Court, it said it would be "defended there".
The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has moved the Delhi High Court, which has stayed the decision of the PCI rejecting nomination given by the INS under the medium newspapers category for filling up vacancies in its 13th term.