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Supreme Court judges and journos agree truce on press accreditation with longer temporary permits

Hack hacks at SC hydra (see Court Witness below for more)
Hack hacks at SC hydra (see Court Witness below for more)
Exclusive: Supreme Court journalists and the bench are understood to have agreed a compromise after the spat over the notification of rules in late August that would have effectively excluded 80 per cent of current correspondents from the apex court.

The rules, which were dated 2007 but were only publicised in August of this year, stipulated that all Supreme Court correspondents must have a law degree and at least seven years of court reporting experience for print media, or three-and-a-half for electronic media, which could have disqualified 80 per cent of journalists regularly working in the apex court.

Journalists meeting those and other requirements would be granted one year accreditation.

The registrar would also be able to grant “temporary reporting facility to a working journalist for a day / short duration or for a specific case” if presenting a letter from the editor of their paper and at the “sole discretion” of the Chief Justice of India. Any accreditation could be withdrawn at any time without assigning a reason. The Express had criticised the new rules in an editorial.

But it is understood that after journalists submitted a number of written representations, around two weeks ago a delegation from the fourth estate met with Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who chairs the apex court’s press committee, and explained why some members of the press were troubled by the new rules.

Access to the courts was important, argued the journalists according to a source with knowledge of the development, and existing safeguards were adequate in dealing with irresponsible reporting, including contempt of court proceedings or complaints to the press council, which will now incidentally be chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju.

It is understood that Bhandari noted the journalists’ concerns and agreed that correspondents requiring access to the courts would be issued temporary reporting passes for three-month periods that could be renewed indefinitely.

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