Know Your Rights Guide for Journalists in India

CPJ-TrustLaw launch at Press Club of India, New Delhi

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L to R seated - Abhinandan Sekhri of Digipub and News Laundry, Neha Dixit of Network of Women in Media, India, Umakant Lakhera president of the Press Club of India, Anju Grover, treasurer of the Indian Women's Press Corps. On the screen at the left Joanita Britto Menon the Thomson Reuters Foundation's Legal Program manager for Asia. At the lectern, Committee to Protect Journalists' India representative Kunal Majumdar Photo CPJ
L to R seated - Abhinandan Sekhri of Digipub and Newslaundry, Neha Dixit of Network of Women in Media, India, Umakant Lakhera president of the Press Club of India, Anju Grover, treasurer of the Indian Women's Press Corps. On the screen at the left Joanita Britto Menon the Thomson Reuters Foundation's Legal Program manager for Asia. At the lectern, Committee to Protect Journalists' India representative Kunal Majumder Photo CPJ

The CPJ-TrustLaw Know Your Rights Guide for Journalists in India was launched at the Press Club of India in New Delhi on 25 February 2023 by representatives of several journalist bodies in the national capital including the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, DIGIPUB and the Network of Women in Media, India.  

The practical legal rights guide, available in English and Hindi, attempts to equip journalists with a working understanding of the rights, remedies, and protection measures that are available under Indian law and addresses questions like what are rights of a journalist in India? How do journalists obtain redress when faced with criminal action? What does a journalist do in case of a SLAPP suit? How does a journalist obtain redress when faced with online abuse? and much more.

Through TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono service, law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co provided free legal support to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to develop this resource for journalists in India.

According to CPJ documentation, over 35 Indian journalists have been imprisoned, and 31 have been killed since 2010, demonstrating the increasing need for journalists to understand their legal rights and recourses to harassment and police actions including arrest.

Welcoming the release of the guide, Umakant Lakhera, president of Press Club of India president said, “Journalism and freedom of speech are under peril. We must stand against any regime that suppresses the voices of journalists and their fundamental rights.”

Speaking on the occasion, Joanita Britto Menon, TRF’s Legal Program manager for Asia, said, “Protecting freedom of the press is crucial at a time when misinformation is plaguing society. We need to develop more tools and resources that can be used to defend media freedom. The Know Your Rights Guide for Journalists in India by CPJ is a step in that direction. The Thomson Reuters Foundation and TrustLaw look forward to supporting more initiatives like this.”

CPJ’s India representative Kunal Majumder said, “With growing legal challenges to press freedom in India, we hope that this guide will be useful to journalists to know about their legal rights. The Know Your Rights Guide for Journalists in India is not a substitute for proper legal advice, however, it can help develop basic legal literacy among journalists.”

Anju Grover, treasurer of IWPC said, “There are cases where authorities have tried to use the law against journalists in vile ways. Bullying tactics have further been used by large corporations and companies in order to intimidate journalists. The online abuse faced by women journalists is also a major concern.”

Abhinandan Sekhri, general secretary of DIGIPUB said, “There is a need for a plan of action so that right as legal action is taken against a journalist, their trusted network knows how to navigate the legal framework. Journalists should have a trusted legal source and advisor who can take decisions even in their absence. The aim of most of these cases is to push journalists towards bankruptcy so building a legal fund for independent journalists who lack structural support is important.”

Neha Dixit of Network of Women in Media, India said, “It is important to have a legal guide like this because the requirements of the legal procedure are difficult to navigate, and having a larger legal network that isn’t restricted to big cities but also extends to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. It is essential to issue statements and take cognisance of cases against journalists in order to offer moral and community support to independent journalists and their families.”

QR code for Know Your Rights Guide for Indian JournalistsClick the link here, or use the QR code to access CPJ- TrustLaw Know Your Rights Legal Guide

The Press Club of India is an association of journalists and media professionals in New Delhi, India. As of 2021, it has around 4,200 active members, 900 associate members and a few dozen corporate members, making it the largest body of journalists in India.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.  CPJ’s work is based on its research, which provides a global snapshot of obstructions to a free press worldwide. CPJ’s research staff documents hundreds of attacks on the press each year. CPJ also provides comprehensive, life-saving support to journalists and media support staff working around the world through up-to-date safety and security information and rapid response assistance. For more information and media query, please contact Kunal Majumder, CPJ India Representative, at kmajumder@cpj.org 

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information services company. As an independent charity, registered in the UK and the USA, it works to advance media freedom, foster more inclusive economies, and promote human rights. Through news, media development, free legal assistance and convening initiatives, it uses the combined power of journalism and the law to build global awareness of critical issues faced by humanity, inspire collective leadership and help shape a prosperous world where no one is left behind.

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