Ahead of the winter session of Parliament beginning on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Monday issued a list of “dos and don’ts” for media persons covering the proceedings, with one directive asking media persons not to interact or interview or photograph “anyone else other than ministers or MPs” without prior permission.
The directive comes as former Member of Parliament West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal could very likely visit the Parliament premises.
It also said that “no interviews or enlisting of responses would be allowed” in some designated locations inside Parliament House.
“No media person including reporters of print and electronic media shall be permitted to take interviews or reactions or responses inside the portico of Building Gate No. 1, except during general and railway budget,” said the guidelines, which comprises 18 points.
The ‘Guidelines for Representatives of Electronic Media including still Photographers’ also counseled that: “Media persons shall observe decorum in consonance with the dignity of Parliament”.
Parliament sources, however, made it clear that such guidelines are “routine affairs” and issued from time to time either ahead of the Parliament sessions or even during the sessions.
Another guideline said, “Media persons will not interact or interview or photograph anyone else other than ministers or members of Parliament without permission from the press and public relations wing.”
The winter session of parliament generally commences on the third week of November but was advanced this time as the government wants to pass among others the crucial bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST).
However, due to some major developments during the inter-session period like surgical strikes by Indian army across the LoC to “destroy terror launch pads” and the demonetisation moves banning high-denomination currency notes have made the political mood surcharged.
The Parliament officials said the guidelines have been issued only to facilitate the media persons discharge their duties professionally without creating any hassles for the security personnel both inside Parliament House and in the Parliament premises.
The guidelines, said, “Under a self-regulatory pool system, two electronic channels (including one visual agency and an electronic channel) will be permitted to cover interviews, near Building Gate No. 1 and 4”.
It further said the reporters may take “prior appointments” with ministers or MPs and “request them to approach the designated media stands for interviews and reactions”.
“Media persons may move within the Parliament House Estate in a manner which may not obstruct smooth flow of vehicular traffic,” the guidelines said.
“The crew of a particular television channel will be considered as a single entity for the purpose of issuing passes,” it added.