For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The government is strategically planning on taking enjoining orders against Lanka Fast Publishers that publish the Sunday Lanka and Midweek Lanka newspapers in order to temporarily or permanently prevent the newspapers from being published and distributed, a senior official from the Government Information Department told Lanka News Web.
He said the government is looking at getting those supportive of the government to gather complaints against the newspapers using the Press Council Act No. 5 of 1973.
People are to be instigated to lodge complaints against the fraud and corruption revealed by the Lanka newspapers under the project. The senior official said the governmentís plan was to get enjoining orders preventing the newspapers from being published and distributed until the inquiry into the false complaints lodged against the two newspapers are concluded.
According to Clause 9 of the Press Council Act, the Council has the mandate to issue enjoining orders against an owner of a newspaper, printer, publisher, editor and journalists employed at the institution. The Council has not been activated due to the protest against the threat it would have on media freedom and the media that criticizes the government. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on June 1, 2009 ordered the re-activation of the Press Council.
Legal experts have pointed out that since a majority of the Council members are appointed by the President it would violate the freedom of thought and expression.
The Chief Editor of the Sunday Lanka has already been informed of five complaints where he has been cited as the respondent by the Council. The government has already made preparations to gather more complaints against the relevant editor.