Many fake journalists in State facing criminal cases, DGP tells HCJudges say a committee will be formed to probe assets of such persons

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Many fake journalists in State facing criminal cases, DGP tells HC
Legal CorrespondentCHENNAI, JANUARY 22, 2020 01:15 ISTUPDATED: JANUARY 22, 2020 01:15 IST

Judges say a committee will be formed to probe assets of such persons
The Director-General of Police (DGP) on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court that a number of cases had been booked across the State against fake journalists who indulge in criminal activities such as blackmailing, and sought time till February 5 to collate and submit details from all districts.

Appearing before a Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and P. Velmurugan, who had taken up the issue of weeding out fake journalists and safeguarding the interests of genuine journalists, State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan said the DGP’s office required a fortnight to submit details of criminal cases.
After recording his submission, the judges in their interim order said: “As already noted in our earlier order passed on January 11 this year, many persons claiming themselves as press people are said to have been committing crimes and blackmailing business people as well as government officials.
“If this court is convinced, it will constitute a special committee to look into the circulation of those magazines as well as newspapers, the income tax paid by those persons from the date of their first publication and the properties, assets and liabilities possessed by them to know as to whether they are genuine press persons or not.”

Outdated rules
On his part, Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan, representing the Secretary, Information and Public Relations Department, stated that the government decided to do away with the outdated 2002 rules relating to issuance of accreditation cards to journalists and come up with a new set of rules.
He said the old rules had led to many fake journalists getting various benefits accorded by the government for the welfare of genuine journalists. Therefore, a decision had been taken to ensure that only the latter benefited in the future. He sought time till February 5 to submit a detailed affidavit. In the meantime, the judges permitted six Chennai-based journalists to get impleaded as respondents in the case so that they could assist the court in arriving at a just decision on the issue. Their advocates A.P. Suryaprakasam and Gautam S. Raman suggested that a special commissioner be appointed to identify the fake journalists and journals in the State.
Since the fake journals, used mainly for the purpose of blackmailing, could be identified easily through their circulation figures, the judges suo motu impleaded the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), based in Mumbai, as one of the respondents to the case and ordered notice to it, returnable by February 5.

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The judges had taken up the issue during the hearing of a random writ petition filed against retired Inspector General of Police A.G. Ponn Manickavel by S. Sekaran, who claimed to be a “press reporter.” After doubting the genuineness of the petitioner, the judges expanded the scope of the case.

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