Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Should we report or not? The question pricked the Press as the Speaker today pronounced a “ruling” that nothing beyond the business under the agenda and allowed in the Orissa Legislative Assembly could be reported.
Shocked severely by the ruling, journalists in the Press gallery were to decide to stop reporting in protest against abrupt obliteration of their working environment that the OLA was the first House in the country to have granted them under a specific law such as The Orissa Legislative Assembly Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1960.
The Government, aware of collective protests of Orissa journalists against police atrocities perpetrated on a number of members of their fraternity, sensed how the Speaker’s ruling would further embitter the Press and tried to make amendment through the Minister of Parliamentary affairs, Raghunath Mohanty.
As the House adjourned over unrelenting Opposition demand for obituary honor to farmers reassembled at 12 in the noon, Mohanty instantly stood up to request the Speaker to recall his ruling restricting reporting. “In the question hour today, Sir, you have issued a ruling. I request you to please review that ruling and to please allow the Press to report the Assembly proceedings as unrestricted as before”, he repeatedly said, while appealing simultaneously to the Press to cooperate with the House in publication of its proceedings.
The Speaker, in response, said that he had no intention to gag the Press. “I accept the request of the Parliamentary Affairs Minister. Let the friends in the Press Gallery kindly cooperate”.