The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Friday passed a bill that seeks to prevent attacks on journalists and media houses. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis introduced the bill of ‘Maharashtra Mediapersons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to property) Act, 2017’, in the lower house, which was passed without discussion in the absence of opposition members.

What is the bill about?

The bill provides for prevention of violence against journalists while carrying out their duties as media persons, and prevention of damage or loss of property of media persons or media houses in the state.

b’Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis | Source: PTI’

Why is it being passed?

 It has been introduced on account of the “rampant instances” of violence and attacks against media persons and damage or loss of property of media houses. The attacks led to a strong demand which can prevent such violence against media persons or damage or loss to the property belonging to media persons and media houses to check the recurrence of such incidents. 

What are the provisions of the Act?

  • As per the provisions of the Act, anyone who commits or attempts to commit/ abets/ instigates or provokes the commission of any act of violence, shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to three years, or with fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000 or with both.
  • The offence shall be cognisable and non bailable and triable by the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class. A police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police shall investigate any offence under this Act.
b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’
  • The offender shall be liable to pay compensation for damage or loss caused to the property of the media person or media house, as determined by the court and also be liable to reimburse the medical expenditure incurred by the media person, the Act says.
  • If the compensation and medical expenditure is not paid, it will be recovered as it were arrears of land revenue.
  • A media institution has been defined as any registered newspaper establishment, news channel establishment, news based electronic media establishment or news station establishment.
b’Journalists protesting outside Tata House in Mumbai after a recent incident of assault | Source: Reuters’
  • A media person means a person, whose principal vocation is that of a journalist, who is employed as a journalist, whether on regular or contract basis.
  • Media person is defined as editor, sub editor, news editor, reporter, correspondent, cartoonist, news photographer, television cameraman, leader-writer, feature writer, copy tester and proof reader.
  • Violence is defined as an act, which causes or may cause any harm, injury or endangering life of a media person during the discharge of his duty as a media person or causing damage or loss of property belonging to any media person or media institution.

(Feature image is representational | Source: AFP)