Media access to prisons is restricted

Lata Jain

New guidelines were issued on Friday to streamline the entry of filmmakers, journalists, activists and researchers. This decision was taken by the home ministry after controversy erupted over BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” directed by Leslee Udwin on the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case, in which she interviewed the convicts in Tihar jail.

lata jain

Lata Jain

An advisory has been sent to all states and Union Territories by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, Kumar Alok, saying, “No private individual, press, NGO or company should ordinarily be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or interviews etc.”

The state governments may however allow entry if they feel that the purpose is to create a positive social impact, or the proposed work is related to prison reforms or the authorities themselves decide to invite press, film-makers to cover a particular event.

If any permission is granted by the head of state prison department, then the visitor will have to pay a security deposit of one lakh Rupees. They will only be allowed with a handy-cam, camera or tape recorder.

Tripod, mobile phones, papers, book and pen will not be allowed.  “After the visit, the visitor shall hand over handy cam, Dictaphone or tape-recorder to the jail superintendent for a period of three days… The jail superintendent shall then see and hear recordings… If he finds anything objectionable, he shall delete that portion,” say the guidelines.

Not a very great idea as the journalist see how prison life works, and realize that openness can be a positive exercise for prison staff, inmates and readers.

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