The Journalists Union of Assam (JUA), Assam State Committee of Association of Small and Medium Newspapepers of India and The Assam Tribune Employees Union in a statement here today reacted to the draft of the Act published by the Assam Government.
"The draft bill is nothing but gagging of media freedom and denying the fundamental right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of India. This draft bill is as draconian as the Bihar Press Bill and Tamil Nadu Press Control Bill," said the leaders of the journalists and media workers bodies.
"We have nothing to say on the merit of the law in banning bandh in the state. Bandhs affect everybody and if the government wants to control the menace they can do that. However, censoring the media or curbing the freedom of expression in the name of controlling the bandh culture will affect the democratic structure of the society," they said.
"We condemn such approach of the government and demand dropping from the draft Bill the clauses regulating the media. We also appeal to all the media organizations, journalist bodies and proponents of freedom of the media to oppose and condemn the provision of censoring media in the draft law," the statement added.
The draft states that any unauthorized, private, oral, print or electronic media publicity to, and/or observation of bandh will be unconstitutional and illegal.
According to the provision of the draft law, a bandh is unconstitutional and an offence as no individual or organization has the right to paralyze the educational, economic and industrial systems.
The draft of the legislation says the State Government may, by order in writing, prohibit either absolutely or for a specified period, the bringing into, or sale or distribution or circulation within the state of any newspaper, periodical, book, leaflet or other document specified in the order, if it is satisfied that such action is necessary for preventing an unconstitutional bandh and/or any activity which undermines the security of or tends to overthrow the State or any part of it.


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