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The silence around the state’s seizure of India’s press

  • Published
    10th Oct, 2023

Context:

Recent actions against NewsClick journalists highlight growing need for digital data protection. India faces a temporary crisis with growing digital control, as the top courts appear hesitant to intervene effectively.

Threats to Freedom of Press

  • Historical Precedents and Current Crises: Puttaswamy case affirms privacy rights but enforcement concerns persist.
  • Erosion of Press Freedom in India: India ranks low in World Press Freedom Index due to legal interference.
  • Clash with Fundamental Rights: Outdated Code of Criminal Procedure inadequately addresses modern technology.Search and seizure powers often abused, even without warrants.

Challenges Faced by Journalists

  • Inadequate Legal Safeguards: Magistrates issue warrants without thorough review, weakening safeguards.
  • Court Decisions and Coercion: Karnataka High Court ruling allows forced unlocking of smartphones.Uncertainty leads to investigatory oppression and danger to journalism.
  • Exposing Vulnerabilities: Searches and seizures reveal personal and professional communications both.Intrusion threatens confidentiality, source protection, and national security debates.

Judiciary and Call for Action

  • Judicial Inaction and Need for Courage: Journalists face prosecution with little corrective action from the judiciary.Advocated protective measures aim to safeguard journalist rights.
  • Digital Authoritarianism in India: Nation undergoes a phase of digital authoritarianism, challenging constitutional framework.
  • Role and responsibility: Journalists play a crucial role in maintaining balance of power and upholding democracy.
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