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Arrest Of Journalist Rahul Kulkarni A Frontal Assault On Free Press: NBA

The News Broadcasters Association President Rajat Sharma wrote a strongly-worded letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray, requesting the release of ABP Majha journalist

Photo Credit : PTI

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The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) wrote to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackerey, seeking the release of ABP Majha Channel journalist Rahul Gurunath Kulkarni. In the letter, NBA president Rajat Sharma expressed his “shock and anguish” over the “unreasonable” arrest of the senior journalist, who was held accountable for the gathering of migrant workers at Mumbai’s Bandra station.

Vouching for the journalist’s record, Sharma wrote Kulkarni is known for his “upright journalism.” He raised doubts about accusations that he evaded arrest. “…thus there is no question of him fleeing from or evading the investigating agency which necessitated an arrest in the current Pandemic situation exposing him to the risk of contracting the Virus,” wrote Sharma.

Calling the arrest “unreasonable,” Sharma stated that the act was a serious infringement on the right of freedom of speech and a frontal assault on the free press.

“The fundamental right of freedom of speech is sought to be gagged and any further custody and incarceration of him would be a serious infraction of the constitutional mandate and would also threaten his life,” he wrote.

Sharma also mentioned that the NBA has constituted an adjudicatory body called the “News Broadcasting Standards Authority,”(NBSA) an independent entity headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Arjun Sikri and comprising four eminent people and four eminent editors employed with the broadcasters.

The body is tasked with passing various orders with which it can warn, admonish, censure and express disproval against a broadcaster. If found guilty, the broadcaster can be fined Rs 1,00,000.

Sharma wrote that the complaint should be referred to the NBSA. He assured if Kulkarni is found guilty of any violation, justice would be done and appropriate orders will be passed in accordance with NBSA regulations.  He reiterated that it would be in the larger interest of press freedom.