News agency PTI asked by Indian government to pay Rs 84.48 crore penalty for ‘breaches days after ‘anti-national’ coverage on India-China tension

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The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs headed by Hardeep Singh Puri has asked news agency PTI to pay Rs 84.48 crore as penalty for breaches at its Delhi office. According to news agency IANS, the notice by the ministry said that the PTI needed to give an undertaking on non-judicial stamp paper confirming that it will pay the difference of ‘misuse/damage charges’ if the land rates were revised with effect from 1 April 2016 by the government and will also remove the ‘breaches’ by 14 July 2020 or get them regularised by paying charges.

The notice read, “You are required to furnish to this office an amount of Rs 84,48,23,281 only (details attached) herewith.”

The notice added, “It may be noted that you are also liable to pay damages/additional charges/additional ground rent for the period starting from next date of following the period of 30 days for which the above terms are being offered in respect of the breaches or any other breaches which may come to our notices. These charges will be communicated to you separately.”



The notice by the ministry also said that the present letter offering terms ‘will not act as a waiver for recovery of any charges which may in the discretion of the lessor, be found payable by you at a later stage.’ It continued, “It may please be clearly noted that if the amount is paid within the period stipulated above, you will have to pay 10% interest on the total dues from the date of issue of this letter.”

The current asking PTI to pay Rs 84.48 crore penalty came just days after the Indian public broadcaster Prasar Bharti threatened to cancel its subscription to the former for the alleged ‘anti-national’ reportage by news agency.

The threat to cancel its subscription to PTI by Prasar Bharti had come in the aftermath of the news agency interviewing a Chinese diplomat, who blamed India for the India-China violent standoff that left 20 Indian soldiers including a colonel rank officer killed in eastern Ladakh. After the interview, Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong had tweeted, “Gave an interview to PTI on #GalwanValley Incident. Onus is not on #China. We are willing & able to properly manage differences. Mutual respect &support is sure way. Suspicion & friction is wrong path. Will jointly uphold peace & stability in border areas, ensure sound & steady relations.”



PTI has had its own share of run-ins with the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Union Minister Smriti Irani’s displeasure on a PTI photograph a few years ago had led to the sacking of the photographer.

In 2017, Irani had once again struck by publicly admonishing PTI for using a photo of PM Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a not-too-flattering manner.

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