Monday, November 21, 2011

Vanity Of The Defamers

The media is up in arms against the Supreme Court decision not to interfere in the proceedings of a defamation case against TimesNow by former Justice P.B. Sawant. The ruling requires TimesNow to deposit an amount of 20crores and a bank guarantee of 80crores with the Bombay High Court to hear an appeal against a lower court’s order in Pune which awarded the 100crore defamation to Justice Sawant.

Lately, the media has been under fire from various quarters, particularly the new PCI chairman Justice Katju. He is in favour of newer and stronger regular regulations, including punitive measures for infringements by the media. In the present case TimesNow argues that showing the picture of Justice Sawant in the report of a scam was a genuine, unintentional mistake without malice. All other media organisations like Editors’ Guild, BEA, NBA and others have criticised the SC ruling. Oh well, I’m not surprised even politicians like Abhishek Singhvi, Arun Jaitley and Ravishankar Prasad have also joined the chorus. In a few days this might even become a human rights issue and the NHRC might also make a statement. Wait, who knows even the UN and UNSC come out in support of our media since the eminent Lord Meghnad Desai seems to have said the “court order was tantamount to an intimidating attack on the freedom of the press”. An attack? On freedom of the Press? The SC simply ruled it won’t intervene.

There has been a trend lately to rush to the SC with SLPs to either stay or quash proceedings in lower courts. Sanjeev Bhatt’s is another case where the SC has declined to quash proceedings against him. There is a consistency now in SC rulings which appears not so keen in interfering with lower courts except in stray cases. That is the message that the media should have drawn instead of protesting the SC ruling so severely. After all, the Bombay HC still hearing the TimesNow appeal and if their order is unfavourable then going to the SC remains an option. As for 100 crores, does it seem excessive? Well, on the face of it for 15 seconds of infamy it does seem excessive. So let’s look at another case. The “Rahul Gandhi-Sukanya case – Amazing media silence” is an older post on this blog that still remains on top. So what happened in that case?

Indian Express (March 8): A former MLA of the Samajwadi Party, Kishor Samrite, filed a petition in UP against Rahul Gandhi’s alleged illegal detention of a woman named Sukanya. “The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court…slapped a penalty of Rs 50 lakh on…. who had filed a habeas corpus petition, alleging that Rahul Gandhi had raped a girl from Amethi and was keeping her and her parents in illegal detention since 2007. While dismissing the petition of Kishor Samrite, the court also ordered CBI to register a case against him.

Mind you, when the case was filed it was just a few stray newspapers that reported it. When the HC dismissed the case and ordered the penalty of 50 lakhs it was all over the place and the news channels carried the report over and over again. No one really asked the question if 50 lakhs was fair and justified. For one, the petitioner went to a court of law and statements in courts cannot be considered defamation. So Samrite files a petition in the SC which stays the penalty. And who rushes to the SC to get into the case? The CBI! Oh yeah, the CBI which is usually reluctant to investigate certain scams and politicians showed unusual enthusiasm to be a party to the case in SC. Here’s what ET (August 26) reported:

CBI rushes to SC to becomeparty in case against Rahul: In an unusual move, the Central Bureau of Investigation has rushed to the Supreme Court wanting to be a party in an appeal filed by Kishore Samrite against whom a probe was ordered by the Allahabad high court for levelling false charges against Congress general secretary and MP Rahul Gandhi. The HC had asked for the CBI probe against Samrite on March 7. The CBI had lodged a case under Indian Penal Code Sections — 120b (criminal conspiracy), 181 (false statement on oath), 211 (false charges to cause injury ) and 499-500 (defamation). The HC had imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on Samrite.

Look at the all the penal codes under which CBI wants to prosecute Samrite. His motivation for the case against Rahul Gandhi may be suspect but not one newspaper or news channel, I repeat NOT ONE, ever questioned whether the 50 lakh penalty was justified. Well, obviously that is not an attack on freedom of speech for media. After all, it concerns the first family. Mind you, not just that, not one single media outlet even questioned why the CBI was so enthusiastic to be a party in the appeal by Samrite. Not one!  

Recently  Sudheendra Kulkarni and few BJP MLAs and others were arrested and jailed for their involvement in the Cash4Votes scam. This time, it’s the Delhi Police who were acting on SC orders to investigate the scam. These were the ‘whistleblowers’ in the scam and their arrest was shocking to most people. Once again, they were bailed out by the High Court which observed that none of them seemed to have taken any bribes and there appears to be no prima-face against them. Yet, apart from sensationalising their arrests not one media outlet questioned the conduct of Delhi Police and the validity of their actions. How is it that ordinary people are able to see through the acts of DP and yet the wise ones in the media are not. It’s an extraordinary event where the guilty are roaming free and apparently innocent ones were being prosecuted. Did the media stand up for their freedom? Not one! Not one media retailer even asked if Kulkarni and others were actually being “framed” in the whole case. Alright, never mind!

What about frequently calling Narendra Modi a ‘mass muderer’. Does the media have any evidence? I suppose that is not defamation. Should he have desired, NaMo could have sued Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai and others for a 100 crores too. How do they shamlessly carry on such a campaign and yet claim defence for themselves? How do they allow a rogue cop to call NaMo a ‘Common Criminal’ on their news channels and yet not black out that comment. Instead, the media played out that comment over and over again. That is willful defamation many times over. Well, I guess it’s fair game when it comes to others. Did the media plug these horrible utterances?

Roll back to another case, again by none other than the CBI. This was against former Home Minister of Gujarat, Amit Shah. I now don’t even remember how many charges were packed against Shah. Involvement in extortion, Sohrabuddin case, the list might go on. When the news broke, the news channels were up shouting and hollering how the ‘right-hand man’ and ‘aide’ of Narendra Modi was screwed. They clearly implied that because Shah was charged and arrested it was an indictment of Modi and there were those who even demanded Modi’s resignation. Again, not one, I repeat not one, media retailer even bothered to ask if the CBI’s case had any merits or what was the basis on which the charges and arrest were made. The CBI not only opposed bail but even sought Amit Shah to be kept out of the state of Gujarat. This is a plumbing job! The media simply went overboard in using the case to hurl further accusations at the Narendra Modi govt. Defamation, Slander, Libel anybody? The order by the Supreme Court in this particular is not only shocking but exposes the outrageous act of the CBI. Here’s what the TOI (November 18) reported on the SC order:

The bench indicated its agreement with Jethmalani's (Amit Shah’s lawyer) submissions and told additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha, who appeared for CBI, that "the complaints appears to be absolute trash". "Mr Tankha, you (the CBI) are supposed to be the finest investigating agency. You have to respond to all these lapses and deficiencies. The insinuations (against Shah) were wholly unwarranted and totally unfair," the bench said.

Apart from some minor reporting of the SC order and some in the scrolls at the bottom of the TV screen most news outlets buried the item. They were happy to have found the sensational allegations of Vinod Kambli about match-fixing pretty handy.

TimesNow frequently claims to base their reports on secret documents of IB, Home Ministry that they somehow come to access. Other news channels also often claim to possess secret letters and documents of the govt. in their reporting. Yet, not one newspaper or newschannel has ever reported on Sonia Gandhi’s reported illness, her surgery or her the state of her health. Why? No leaks or are the media plumbers doing a good job of plugging it all. But they find enough leaks to do hit jobs on detractors of the govt. Not even the CAG is spared. The 100 crore defamation award is still in the appeal court. There is no denying the severity of the order but is there any sympathy lost for the news channel? The only thing hurt seems to be the media’s collective vanity.


  1. Dear Ravinar,

    Either we should accept that the Paid News Syndrome is here to stay & just keep quiet about it or take the fight to its logical ends by bringing out a unified front along with like minded citizens of this country. Incidentally even the BJP is now quickly learning the ropes of Paid news from the Congress party as it has to sustain & defeat the Congress in war of people's perception building. Although the Funders of major News channels are staunch anti-Hindu, hence the BJP finds it difficult to fight the Congress Media war.

  2. @Ravinar: Well said.

    It is high time that we realized that the people who are "running the show" are not even dumb-fucks.

    A "party" that has "ruled" the country for over sixty years can not handle a crisis without the "guidance" of a woman of foreign origin. Does that not show that all party-persons are DFs?

    Organizations proclaiming themselves to be Hindu, compete to be Secular. Can they be anything other than DFs?

    Liquor baron squanders crores of rupees in page-3 lifestyle and "powers that be" contemplate "bailing him out". Is there any better example of DF-ery?

    Friends, we need to see the truth, and that seeing itself will force us to act. Denial is not a solution, it is the root of all problems.

    And yes, TOI is seeking forgiveness for its mistake. So after more than a hundred years of journalism, TOI realizes that it needs to learn the A,B,C of reporting? And other media houses and political houses tend to sympathize?

    Folks, these blokes are not mere dumb-fucks. They are EVIL! And we are being run and managed by evil evil-mongers!

    This has to go. Remember it every moment. Remind yourself that these evil people have got to go and have got to pay for their sins.

    Your children deserve a much better place, not a place run by these scoundrels. DO SOMETHING!

  3. Niira Radia tapes have clearly exposed how media functions .For almost a decade NaMo has been pronounced guilty of genocide by media.News today is sleight of hand.Paid news,Private treaties with advertisers.Celebrity coverage for fee is order of the day.PR feeds masquerading as reportage,Business story to serve the stock market.The deserving story not done.Investigation and expose when it happens because someone has score to settle[In Cash 4 Vote scam no questions are asked why CNN-IBN did not show entire footage of video]Instead of agenda-setters Journalists have become handymen,well paid but increasingly adrift from craft and ethics.Instead of examining,probing,deliberating on many aspects they are indulging in petty deceit.Let law takes its own course in this matter and no tears need to be shed for Times Now.

  4. BJP and Sangh Parivar apologists work over time to defend the dumb-fuckery of these stupid organizations. If these guys are so helpless, why don't they pass the baton to someone else and move on? Why is Advani eyeing what he must gracefully vacate for a younger fire brand leader? Why do they have to keep appeasing Nitish Kumar on the topic of Modi?

    The first time they got a chance, they chose Hajpeyee, the wind-bag. The "iron-man" meekly caved in to the Kandahar interlocuters and sent Jaswant Singh escorting terrorists. Then both these tried "Jinna was Secular" logic, as if it mattered. And then intoxicated and reveling in self-glory went in to election prematurely in 2004. India Shining horse came un-stitched! What a bunch of hardworking professionals!

  5. Now see the story running on TV shows regarding SIT report submitted to Guj HC on Irshat Jehan case. Already Sreekumar and Teesta are blaring on the screens and no one is reporting the other side. And the two are beating Modi by name with batons even though he is not concerned!

  6. Please go through this link also on interesting piece on paid news TOI is the main culprit in PAID NEWS. MSM will never have discussion on this topic.

  7. The scam shining corrupt cong had demoralised not only this nation but the respective agencies too. They have left no stone unturned without being interfered for obvious reasons. Y. day I read that Swamy wrote to PM that the two sisters of Late Rajiv's wife- who wanted to be real patriotic by up-keeping the school days slogan "All Indians are my brothers and sisters" hence wedded this alien but to terminate the fate of this nation for ever- are meddling in all day to day affairs of our central ministers which is strictly objectionable.

  8. Please go through following link

  9. I disagree with you Mr Mediacrooks!! What the Mumbai court demanded from TOI is unprecedented, undemocratic and a clear signal to press to behave.If the court really think defamation is a serious offence, it should reflect in the constitution.I think anyone who becomes a public personna is a target for ridicule.This is a neccessary requisite to keep them in check.In the case of TOI, all the court needed to do is demand this tabloid to publish a public apology in its front page stating clearly that it is an idiot to publish wrong photograph.It is then left to the readers whether they want to really read this mediocre tabloid.As for Katju, he should spend more time to clean up our judiciary especially the mediocre lower courts.His statements depicts his mediocre mind.

  10. Excellent article!
    What a treat it would be to see this on the frontpage of a newspaper!

  11. Mr Anonymous,

    1) You think Mumbai court demand from TOI is : a) Unprecedented : Totally Agree,
    b) Undemocratic : Totally Disagree,
    c) Clear signal to press to behave : Totally Agree

    2) You think defamation is not a serious offense? So now you want to utilize Constitutional provisions to save the skin of Journalists who either butcher or trade a helpless individual by threatening him of defamation ?

    3)You are telling the courts to shut up & thus not follow the same constitutional procedures ?

    4) You also seem to have the exceptional wisdom to tell Justice Katju what he should or should not do ? Who are You - God?

  12. Anonymous his liberty to write what he wants. I have mine to oppose.

    TOI publications are slaves to the powers that be.They are like that and change of time will not impact them.

    TOI has more gossips news as against conservative papers like The Hindu.

    It is time that the head of TOI needs to be put under guillotonne.

  13. @Anonymous

    Anonymous is being, at the very least, inconsistent. All these DF-s make noises, sloganeering about Constitution and Democracy etc., only when it suits them. Hypocrisy is the deadliest scourge of these times and is so ubiquitous.

    What the media in general, and in particular in this case the TOI group, must learn is that those who live in glass-houses should not throw stones at others. Recall that self-anointed Team Anna itself has drawn some flak on this count.

    If media wants its freedoms to be held as high as "Constitution" and "Democracy" then it has to first re-legitimize itself. They have completely, well nearly completely, de-legitimized themselves after decades of hypocritical reporting.

    For now, even the "Constitution" (as implemented here) and "Democracy" (as practiced here) have been de-legitimized in India.

    We need to question the sacrosanct classification of both the Constitution and Parliamentary-Democracy. As for media, such as those practicing partisanship and hypocrisy, it can go and boil its head, if it has one.

  14. Following link disappeared from the main page of India Today as soon as it appeared. Had been about Varun Gandhi it would have been 24X7 on Gandhi family controlled media houses

  15. @ Anonymous

    If you read the IPC it is mandatory for the courts to ask the petitioner to exhaust section 19 which warrants the precedents to file a case.

    In this case the petitioner should have served a notice denying the information published in the post script column and having had they refused or ignored vicariously read as refused the case would have been numbered. Hence, know the fact before expressing your rue for such unprincipled!

  16. @samalochaka
    Well said! It has been long since the politicians and governance by the III rated gave gobye to moral, secularism, democracy, law and order, chaste and so are which are elementary for peaceful living. Can you deny the fact that the police have become people in uniform have become organised goondas for the rulers? Can anyone highlight a common got justice in our Indian governance based on merit? Hence, we have accustomed to live in celestial living but a fiction


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