Govt acting against media, says ex-justice

Kathmandu, September 6:

Retired justice of the Supreme Court Laxman Prasad Aryal today accused the government of curbing the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the constitution by cutting the rights of the media in recent times even as an apex court stay order to the government has allowed FM stations to air news. “The government is busy in violating the rights of the people even after the stay order of the apex court,” Aryal, one of the drafters of the 1990 Constitution, said. He also said the government was trying to impose censorship on the media yet again in an unconstitutional manner. Aryal was speaking at a talk programme on Freedom of Expression and the Rights of the FM Stations organised by the Constitutional and Judicial Journalists’ Forum here today.

He added the constitution has provided rights to the FM stations to air news to secure the rights of the people and the recent move of the government was against the spirit of the constitution. Aryal claimed the airing of news by the FM stations has helped raise awareness among the people about their rights in the recent years. President of Nepal Bar Association (NBA) Shambhu Thapa accused the government of acting ‘nakedly’ against the FM stations.

“If the government-owned Radio Nepal has the right to air news, why not the FM stations?” He asked. Former president of the NBA Harihar Dahal said the FM stations have the right to air news under the Article 13 and 16 of the constitution that guarantee press freedom and public’s right to information. Former president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists Suresh Acharya also accused the government of being biased against the FM stations and violating the constitution.