International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Director Barbara Trionfi this week sent a letter toIndia_7 the chief justice of the High Court of Kerala, India expressing concern over continued restrictions on journalists’ right to cover court proceedings.

In the letter, which was also directed to the chief minister of Kerala’s government, Trionfi noted that journalists have been denied access to courts in the southern Indian state for months and must rely on information provided by public relations officers.

“This, however, is not a substitute for independent reporting,” she wrote. “A free and independent judiciary and a free and independent press are two of the most important elements of any democratic society and both must be defended vigorously.”

The restrictions were imposed in July 2016 after a section of lawyers of the High Court clashed with journalists over a news report criticising the Kerala High Court Bar Association’s stance on a case involving allegations of sexual misconduct by a local attorney.