New Delhi : The Press Council of India (PCI) and the Government were at loggerheads over the issue of the PCI’s powers to serve a bailable arrest warrant against Union I & B Ministry Secretary Sunil Arora for failing to appear before it following summons.
Information and Broadcasting Ministry sources said that the PCI has “limited powers” and cannot decide everything unlike the judiciary, which is an independent institution recognised by the Constitution, days after the Council took a decision to issue the arrest warrant.
PCI Chairman Justice(retd) C K Prasad, however, said that the Council was of the “prima facie” view that it does have the powers to issue such a warrant. At the same time, he said the Council is willing to listen to I and B Ministry’s contention in this regard.
The unanimous decision to secure Arora’s attendance before the Council at its next scheduled meeting here on April 22 was taken by its members at their meeting on April 11 under the Chairmanship of Prasad.
The PCI had decided to institute a suo motu inquiry on 17th March, into the “continued apathy” of the I & B Ministry towards the activities of the Council particularly at its efforts to preserve the freedom of the press and its mandate under the Press Council Act and directed its Secretary to appear before it on 11th April. Arora is due to retire on 30th April.
Prasad said the ministry had in its initial response questioned the Council’s powers but in another communication on Wednesday said the I and B Secretary would come.
A request was also made to the Council to consider a change in the date for the Secretary’s appearance.
Regarding the request, Prasad said a decision would be taken after seeking views of all the Council members amid suggestions by a few that the direction for issuing the warrant be kept in abeyance.
Prasad on Wednesday said the Council received a communication from the ministry on that day in which it was said the Secretary was not present here to receive the notices as he was out of the country and that he would appear before it.