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Mischief against the press

37 3 0

“If you give me freedom of speech, I have the freedom to publish it, otherwise the privilege is useless.” — M.A. Jinnah

ALTHOUGH the effort to get an antediluvian measure against the print media adopted by the Press Council of Pakistan has been foiled — for good one hopes — the assumptions underlying the nefarious move need to be firmly repelled.

That the draft of an ordinance designed to strangulate the press was indeed prepared has been confirmed and the chickens in the information pen are in a state of panic.

The authors of the draft sought to control the press by turning the publisher’s declaration into a licence, subject to yearly renewal and liable to be cancelled at the designated authority’s whim and caprice. The design is based on a completely fallacious view of the publisher’s declaration.

Ever since the Adam’s Regulation of the East India Company days, the declaration, as the term itself implies, was an affirmation by a person that he intends to publish a newspaper titled so and so, from such and such place and with so and so as its editor. All this to only fix responsibility for whatever was published. The district magistrate concerned was bound to authenticate — mark the word — the declaration unless a publication bearing the same title had already been registered in the province. Authentication of declaration was usually a painless formality.

During the Second World War, the district magistrate of Delhi cancelled the declaration........

© Dawn