‘High Court Stays Proceedings Of Categorization Of Newspapers For Distribution Of Govt Advts’

Srinagar: Taking cognizance of reservations made by editors of empanelled newspapers regarding the procedure and criteria of categorization of newspapers for distribution of Government advertisements, Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a writ petition has stayed the proceedings of categorization of news papers.

According to Kashmir News Service (KNS) Court correspondent, High Court Jammu vide OWP No. 1280/2018; IA No. 1/2018 in a writ petition filed by one Surinder Sharma has stayed the proceedings till further hearing.

Advocate Abhinav Sharma on behalf of petitioner Surinder Sharma told that Court that Petitioner feels aggrieved of the items 4,8, and 9 of Annexure ‘A’ to the revised criteria for the categorization of empanelled newspapers and periodicals for distribution of the govt advertisements by the administrative department vide letter No. ID/A /22/2017 dated 25-5-2018, primarily on the ground that the conditions so imposed are contrary to and not in consonance with the advertisement policy, 2016 formulated by Govt vide Order No. 09-ID of 2016 dated 4-3-2016 pursuant to State Administrative Council (Cabinet) Decision No. 11/3/2016 dated 3-3-2016.

Justice Janak Raj Kotwal after listening to Advocate Sharma observed that on comparing the impunged conditions with the Advertisement Policy,2016, Prima facie case for showing indulgence has been found. With these lines, Court provided two weeks time to concerned authorities to file the counter.

The petitioner had serious reservations over giving 10 points to editors having own printing press and NIL to those editors who don’t have their own printing press. 2ndly over minimum 10 employees with Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account, besides ESI of at least ten employees engaged with newspapers.

One of the editors of Jammu based news papers told KNS that instead of bringing in transparency in the advertisement distribution, DIPR seems to be advocating continuation of the decrepit, discretionary and shady system of advertisement distribution by the Department which was in vogue for the last five years.

“The move definitely aims to kill the spirit of small newspapers as the criteria laid down for categorization of newspapers for small newspapers is practically impossible for small newspapers to fulfill the same. There is no doubt that it will only benefit few newspapers having close intimacy with the department and rest of the newspapers will at great loss as those fail to submit asked formalities will be given lowest category which in plain words will mean that whatever small help in the form of govt advertisements they were getting will squeezed further and in this way many small newspapers may not be able to continue their publishing,” the editor maintained.

He further added that the Jammu and Kashmir based small newspapers have already suffered a lot and operated under serious financial constraints without any help from any quarter and also by sacrificing the well being of their respective families to propagate the policies and programmes of Govt and also the public issues.

“The department must understand that with every small newspaper there is also the livelihood of two to three workers which is directly attached to the financial help these small papers get in the form of govt advertisements. They have to suffer unnecessarily whenever editor faces financial crisis,” he added. (KNS)

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