Shah Commission Report during Emergency

Shah Commission Report (The working of the Media of Information under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry during the emergency) 

I. Censorship 

· During the two or three days when the censorship apparatus was being set up, power supply to the newspaper offices in Delhi remained disrepute. (Para 6.10) 

· The guidelines issued by chief Censor exceeded the scope of the rule 48 of Defence and Internal Security of India Rules in so far as they prevented editors leaving editorial columns blank or filling them with quotations from great works of literature or from National leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, or Rabindranath Tagore. The information and Broadcasting Ministry did not attempt to find whether these guidelines were within the scope of defence and Internal Security of Indian Rules or not. (Para 6.14) 

· Parliament and court proceedings were also subject to censorship. (Para 6.17) 

· Not merely publication of court judgments was censored, but directions were also given as to how judgments should be published. (Para 6.23) 

· The actual work of censorship on day to day basis went even beyond the scope of the guidelines. Orders were arbitrary in nature, capricious and were usually issued orally without any relation to the provisions of Rule 48. (Para 6.29) 

· In practice censorship was utilized for suppressing news unfavourable to the Government, to play up news favourable to the Government and to suppress news unfavourable to the supporters of the Congress Party. (Para 6.3O) 

· In one instance at least, that of the magazine ‘Mainstream’, pre-censorship orders were issued particularly because of its critical attitude towards Shri. Sanjay Gandhi. (Para 6.31) 

· Even after the elections were announced and censorship was relaxed, the Government tried to pressurize the Press by giving informally ‘of the record’ warnings by veiled threats of what would: happen to them after the elections if they did not comply with the directions of the Government. (Para 6.37) 

· During emergency, legislation was enacted to make censorship part of the ordinary law of land. Thus the Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Act was passed, the Press Council of India was abolished by an Ordinance and a Bill repeating the Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1956 was passed. (Para 6.45) 

II. Other pressures on the Press 

· Shri Shukla at a Coordination Committee meeting held on June 29, 1976, had asked the Principal Information Officer to prepare a list of newspapers which were to be categorized as friendly, neutral and hostile. (Para 6.47) 

· The grading of friendly, neutral and hostile given to a particular newspaper was related to its views on a particular political party. (Para 6.48) 

· Political consideration was one of the criteria for giving advertisements. (Para 6.54) 

· Contrary to the policy enunciated the government on the floor of Parliament, political considerations were taken into account while releasing advertisements. (Para 6.57) 

· The Government during this period utilized its advertising policy as a source of financial assistance to newspapers or denial of financial assistance etc. in complete variance with the policy which it had enunciated on the Floor of the Parliament. (Para 6.58) 

III. Formation and functioning of Samachar 

· The functioning of Samachar during the emergency both administratively and editorially was supervised by Government. (Para 6.75) 

· Accreditation of a number of correspondents was terminated and a bulk or these decisions was taken as a part of review. (Para 6.79) 

· Shri K. N. Prasad also admitted to having character and antecedents of a number of journalists verified the Intelligence Bureau at the instance of the Minister. (Para 6.81) 

IV. Functioning of Government media units 

· The Government media units had two main functions during the emergency. They were at once a source of patronage and also they were used for building up the image of political party and a few of its leaders. (Para 6.84) 

· The D.A.V.P. was used on a large scale for giving advertisements to support the various souvenirs brought out by the Congress Party. Opposition parties were denied any such patronage. (Para 6.85) 

· Not merely the Congress Party was given extensive advertising support, but there was an instance when rates per page for souvenirs were increased after they had been agreed upon and the souvenirs printed. (Para 6.86) 

· The slant against the Opposition was so obvious that in December1976, A.I.R. bulletins devoted 2,207 lines to the spokesmen of the Congress Party as against 34 lines to the Opposition. (Para 6.9O) 

· After the change of criteria three part-time Correspondents were appointed to ATR, all of whom were often bearers of the Congress Party. (Para 6.96) 

· A number of films were produced by the Films Division to project the image of Shri. Sanjay Gandhi not only as a Youth leader, but as a leader in his own right. (Para 6.101) 

· A number of multi-media campaigns were launched during the emergency to coincide with important milestone in Smt. Gandhi’s careers (Para 6.105) 

· (viii) The Publications Division was directed to boost the sales of Smt. Gandhi’s books and to publish informative and interesting sketches • with photographs of Smt. Gandhi in various journals and periodicals. (Para 6.105) 

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