Freedom of the Press is the most sacrosanct and is recognised by the judiciary, said Justice Sunil Thomas of the Kerala High Court while inaugurating the Award Ceremony of the Indian Catholic Press Association at the Louis Vyppisserry Hall in Ashirbhavan, Ernakulam, on Saturday, September 23rd. Addressing the Association delegates, the award winners, journalism students and other invitees, Justice Thomas said the judiciary has been taking up the issue of protecting the freedom of press as it is the most essential part of democratic governance.
He expressed concern over the fact that the credibility of the Press in India has declined over the years citing the World Press Index ranking in which India’s position has slipped from 180 to 161 by 11 rungs. Justice Thomas also said that last year, 66 journalists were attacked in the country.
He reminded the journalists from the secular and religious realms and journalism aspirants that media professionals are always to speak the truth to powers that be. Justice Thomas told journalists that they ought to watch out and gave the call for concerted action.
During the event, three journalists/activists were honored with three awards by Justice Thomas in the presence of ICPA President and veteran media professional and author Ignatius Gonsalves, Ecclesiastical Adviser of the organisation Bishop Henry D’Souza and former Principal of Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, Dr Mary Matilda. Sr Robancy A Helen, a nun from Tamil Nadu was bestowed with the ICPA Award for the Best Reportage on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. She was given the award along with a citation and a reusable shawl. She was chosen for her courageous fight for the rights of Dalits.
Veteran journalist Joseph Gathia was given the Swami Devanand Chakkungal Award for Hindi Literature instituted by ICPA and sponsored by the SVD Congregation. Gathia is an author and the student of the founder of ICPA Fr John Barrett. As the citation was being read, he chose to sit on the floor of the dais cross-legged in the traditional way reflecting India’s unfathomable respect for elders.
The Louis Careno Award for Excellence in Journalism was bestowed on journalist, editor and writer Jose Kavi. For the past four decades, he made a mark in reporting in secular as well as Church circles.
Mary Matilda congratulated ICPA for selecting the trio for the awards without fear or favor.
The event was attended by media studies students, members of the association, priests, nuns and other invitees.