Jury Decision Prevails as Press Council Members Approve of Awardees' List

Some of the council members had objected to Chairman Justice C.K. Prasad’s decision to call for a ‘review’ meeting on Wednesday to finalise the awardees.

New Delhi: Amidst reports that the Press Council of India (PCI) may override its jury’s decision to award select journalists in its annual event on November 16, a majority of the council members on Wednesday put all speculation to rest by approving the list of awardees decided by the seven-member jury. 

The PCI awards are given annually to select journalists for distinguished work, on National Press Day, on November 16. A jury comprising journalists is tasked by all the 28 members of the PCI to finalise a list of awardees.

The Wire reported on November 4 that some of the council members had objected to Chairman Justice C.K.Prasad’s decision to call for a ‘review’ meeting on Wednesday to finalise the awardees. This, a few council members said, was unprecedented as the jury’s decisions were taken as final and were never subjected to ‘review’. 

Also read: Overriding Jury, PCI Head Calls Meeting to Review Award to Rajasthan Patrika Editor

The bone of contention, they said, was the Raja Ram Mohan Roy award given to a senior journalist for her lifetime contribution to the field. This year, the jury proposed to give the distinguished award to Rajasthan Patrika editor-in-chief Gulab Kothari, who was at the forefront of protests against some of the controversial decisions made by the Vasundhara Raje Scindia-led BJP government in Rajasthan. 

The jury’s decisions are generally announced to all members on November 15, a day before the award ceremony. However, this year, Prasad sent the committee’s report to all members on October 31 and sought their response. Only three members responded. While two backed the report, one member objected to the jury’s decision to give the Raja Ram Mohan Roy award to Kothari.

This created an alarm among a few council members, who thought that this could be a way to override jury’s independence.

On Wednesday, when the review meeting happened, most members backed the jury. 

“A vast majority of members approved the list of awardees finalised by the jury committee. No changes were sought to be made,” a council member told The Wire. 

The PCI officially announced the awardees on Wednesday and said it will hold the award ceremony as planned on November 16.