Disappointed with the "stoic silence" maintained by Press Council of India (PCI) over the alleged sexual assault by Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal, two members of the council have demanded appropriate action on the matter.
In a letter to chairperson Justice (retd) Markandey Katju, PCI members Rajeev Ranjan Nag and Kalyan Barooah questioned why no action was taken even after two weeks.
"We are disappointed to note that even after the lapse of two weeks, the PCI has not initiated any action from its side, whereas we feel the Council should have taken suo-moto cognisance of the incident, instead of maintaining a stoic silence.
"Finding that no action has been initiated from the PCI, we are left with no option but to write to you a letter to bring the incident to your notice," Nag and Barooah wrote in the letter, adding that they hoped "appropriate action" would now be initiated.
The two members said that a couple of months ago when a photojournalist was gangraped in Mumbai, the PCI had immediately taken note of the incident and despatched a one-man fact-finding team to Mumbai.
They said that the alleged involvement of an "advocate of progressive ideas" in a sexual harassment case has come a rude shock not only to the journalist fraternity but also to the civil society. It is, therefore, a serious matter and cannot be treated casually and taken as an internal affair of a publication house, they said.
They claimed that the publication seemed to have violated the model code of conduct by not implementing the historic Vishakha case guidelines of the Supreme Court.
"We felt that the council should have acted promptly in this matter. While two of us have written this letter we have asked other members to endorse it and are getting their support," said Nag.
The two members said the horrific incident has not only "shaken the new generation of journalists but also has left a deep sense of apprehension among those who are aspiring to become journalists".
The self-imposed 'punishment' by Tejpal is totally unacceptable that smacks nothing but deception on the people, they said.
"The conduct of the Managing Editor Shoma Choudhary is also not above suspicion because instead of forwarding the victim's mail to the authorities for lodging of an FIR, she chose to suppress the incident by dubbing it as an internal affair of Tehelka," their letter said.
They termed Chaudhury's resignation as "nothing but an eye wash and a vain attempt to divert attention". Attempts made to contact PCI chairperson Katju over the phone for his reaction were not successful.