NEW DELHI: The Press Association has said there is an “impending crisis” in the Press Council of India (PCI) as the government has not yet appointed its new chairman even as the extended term of the incumbent chairman expired on Sunday.
In a statement, the journalists’ body said Justice (retd) C K Prasad’s three-year term as the chairman of the council expired in May, but according to the PCI Act 1978, he continued to serve as the council’s chairman for six more months.
“The Press Association expresses serious concern over the impending crisis in the Press Council of India, as its (new) chairman has not been appointed, though the extended term of the incumbent chairman, Justice C K Prasad, is expiring on Sunday,” it said.
The association said no provision in the PCI Act provides that the incumbent chairman can continue to hold the office after the expiry of his extended term till the new chairman is appointed and takes charge.
“There is also no provision for any acting chairman and none from the council, neither any member nor secretary, can act as the chairman,” it said.
While no meeting of the council can be held till a new chairman is appointed, the council staff will also not be able to draw salary in the absence of the chairman, the association said.
The journalists’ body said the provision in the PCI Act for an extension of the incumbent chairman’s term by six months after the expiry of the three-year term is aimed at filling up the post in the interim period.
“But It has not been done by the government of India so far,” the statement jointly issued by Press Association president Jaishankar Gupta and general secretary CK Nayak said.
Gupta is also a member of the council.
The association said the chairman of the council is appointed by a high-level committee comprising the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the speaker of the Lok Sabha and one of the elected representatives of the PCI.
“The committee headed by the Vice President is supposed to meet well before the deadline and select the next chairman. But, the Vice President (M Venkaiah Naidu) is out of the national capital till November 24 and there is no information about the meeting to the council’s nominee for the meeting till date,” the journalists’ body said.