Departing from the past practice, the Home Ministry is now insisting that journalists accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB) will have to get their police verification done every year for renewal, a move that may make it difficult for the scribes to have easy access to central ministries and departments.
The Home Ministry has asked PIB to ensure that all government accredited journalists, numbering over 2,500, must have police verification at the time of yearly renewal of their official card, which gives them uninterrupted access to various ministries and departments.
The move is said to be fallout of Petroleum Ministry’s espionage case in which several classified documents were allegedly leaked by ministry staffers to several corporates. Role of some media personnel is also being probed in the case.
“As per the agreed procedure for endorsing of MHA validation on Press Identity Cards issued to media personnel for enabling their entry into the government buildings under MHA security cover, the agreed procedure is that PIB would seek prior approval of Chief Security Officer, MHA for making these endorsements.
“These endorsements are also to be made after police verification of the concerned media personnel on yearly basis,” the Home Ministry said in a communication to the PIB.
Until now for new accreditation, police verification is a must but for renewals, this is not required.
The Home Ministry conveyed that it has been observed that the police verification procedure has not been followed before making endorsements of the Chief Security Officer of the MHA on Press Identity Cards issued in 2015.
It added that before PIB makes endorsements of MHA’s Chief Security Officer on the Press Identity Cards it may obtain prior approval of CSO, MHA.
“Also, such request for approval is to be accompanied by police verification reports of individual media personnel,” the letter stated.
A Home Ministry official said that police verification of any journalist cannot be a life-long affair and hence a discussion has been going on whether to make it compulsory for every year, in every three year or in very five year.
An alternative would be for journalists to get a verification certificate signed at the local police station rather than policemen visiting each journalist’s house for yearly checks.