Will the gov’t continue to restrict journalists’ access to Parliament?

A protest march was held on December 2, against the various restrictions on media’s entry into Parliament and the Press Gallery

press freedom

Journalists who have been covering both Houses of Parliament held a protest march on December 2, against the various restrictions on media’s entry into Parliament and the Press Gallery. The protest was supported by the Press Club of India, Editors Guild of India, Press Association, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Delhi Union of Journalists, Working News Cameraman Association.



The journalists gave a memorandum to the office of the Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, urging the restoration of the entry of all journalists with permanent passes and sessional passes into Parliament, as well as entry of journalists into the Central Hall, and the reconstitution of the Press Advisory Committee. Most of the media has been kept away for the past five parliamentary sessions, as the Covid-19 protocols were in place. However, even though the protocols have now been lifted everywhere the restrictions on 

journalists in Parliament continue. This has hampered coverage of parliamentary sessions. Senior journalists, and camera persons have demanded that all restrictions imposed on journalists’ entry into Parliament premises and the Press Gallery be lifted immediately.

Journalists marched carrying banners that demanded press freedom, the banners read “We are for Freedom of Press”, “Azaadi do (Give freedom)”, “Restore entry of journalists into the Parliament”, and “Covid kaal main patrakaron par pabandi bandh karo (Stop restrictions on journalists in these times of Covid)”.






Senior Rajdeep Sardesai told the media colleagues that the restrictions were “started in the name of Covid-19 in 2020, but now it has gone too far. I think if it is not protested now, it will become a tradition. Media is going to be kept out in the name of Covid-19”. According to Press Association president Jaishankar Gupta, while entry passes are issued through a lottery system, journalists who have permanent passes are being denied entry into Parliament. According to a veteran journalist, the process for accreditation of journalists by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), required to enter ministries for the purpose of reporting, has also been kept on hold for long by the government.

The memorandum, that was submitted to the Lok Sabha speaker and the chairman of Rajya Sabha, has five prominent demands. According to media reports, president of Press Club of India, Umakant Lakhera said, “During the session, the parliament becomes the hub of information and news. So, if you stop a journalist from doing his or her work, you are simply restricting them from performing their duty.” On November 31, 2021, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, had also written to chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to express his “deep anguish and shock that for the fifth consecutive session of Parliament, only a handful of representatives of media organisations are being allowed access to the Press Gallery”. 

According to a report in The Wire, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) also extended its support to the protest by journalists and party MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien handed over a statement of solidarity from party chief Mamata Banerjee and other senior leaders to the president of Press Club Umakant Lakhera and general secretary Vinay Kumar. It stated, “Parliament is the heart of our democracy and reporting on it is a cherished democratic tradition. A free and robust media is the soul of parliamentary democracy. Right to free speech, freedom of expression and thought are the foundations of a vibrant democracy.”

On November 27, journalists wrote an open letter to political leaders, and protested the restrictions on the media’s access to Parliament. According to the journalists, the Lok Sabha Speaker, had stated in a press conference in July, that there will be no restrictions imposed on the media’s entry.



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