New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) A day after the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) accused it of “biased” selection of new members, Press Council of India (PCI) today said laid down rules were followed in the process of induction.

The INS, in a statement yesterday, said that it was “anguished over the recent unreasonable and biased decision of the PCI chairman while selecting new members”.

The Editors Guild of India too had articulated its concerns over the manner in which the PCI was reconstituted.

In response to the allegations, the PCI in a release said, “It is clarified that selection, as envisaged in law, was done by draw of lots in presence of the representatives of the associations, including the Indian Newspaper Society.” “The whole process has been recorded in audio and video format and open for scrutiny,” it added.

On the Editors Guild of India’s allegation that its nominees were disallowed to become members on technical grounds, the PCI said its chairman “rejected” the panel submitted by the Guild for “not fulfilling the mandatory requirement of the Section 5 (4)” of the Press Council Act, 1978.

It said the Act required that the number of names recommended should be twice the number of vacancies. The PCI said as there were six vacancies in the Editors’ category and the Guild submitted only four names.

The Guild had earlier alleged that the reconstitution of the PCI has been done in a manner that gives rise to “doubts over the independence of the institution and its ability to play neutral umpire”.

The Press Council of India, a statutory body that acts as a watchdog to oversee conduct of the print media, was reconstituted for three years in October 2014. Its term has ended in October last year.

According to the Press Council Act, the council shall consist of a chairman and 28 other members.

Meanwhile, INS has moved the Delhi High Court which has stayed the decision of the PCI rejecting nomination given by the INS for filling up vacancies in its 13th term.

In an interim order, Justice Rajiv Shakdher said that till July 30, no steps will be taken pursuant to the PCI’s March 20 order by which the nomination was rejected.

The court issued notice to the PCI and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and sought their responses within three weeks on the INS plea against rejection of nomination of Hormusji N Cama, owner of Mumbai Samachar weekly and a member of the INS, in the category of medium newspapers.

It has also sought the response of Cama on the plea.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.