The Supreme Court has done well to warn a section of the media that it cannot behave as “Popes and guardians overnight”. A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilar and Justice DY Chandrachud was hearing a plea made by The Wire challenging the Gujarat High Court’s refusal in January to quash a suit filed by Jay Shah before a trial court in Ahmedabad. “We are not for gagging the media. But sometimes jourlists write things that amount to sheer contempt... They behave as if they are Popes and guardians overnight sitting on the pulpit, and can write anything,” Chief Justice Dipak Mishra said. “I don’t want to me any particular media, but a particular electronic media in its website has been writing things... The way people have been vilified, it is not proper... The electronic media should be more responsible. They cannot feel they are above everything,” he added. The apex court has posted the next hearing to April 12 and said that the trial court cannot proceed with the case till then. It has also sought Jay Shah’s response to the plea filed by The Wire.
Fair Warning to the Media
It will be recalled that the news portal had reported that the turnover of a company owned by Jay Shah had grown 16,000 times within a year shortly after rendra Modi became Prime Minister and Jay Shah’s father Amit Shah the BJP president. Jay Shah had sought crimil prosecution of the reporter, editor and publisher of the news portal as well as damages of Rs 100 crore for the loss of reputation to him and his family. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramanium, Abhishek Singhvi and Raju Ramachandran have appeared for the news organization, while former Additiol Solicitor-General Neeraj Kishan Kaul represented Jay Shah. Kaul told the court that the article was defamatory, and the proceedings should not be stayed. Kapil Sibal submitted that there was nothing defamatory in the news report. “Jourlistic freedom cannot be throttled. Otherwise nobody in the country can ask anybody questions about any politician or anybody,” Sibal said. “Why did the court remain silent when certain comments were made in the social media by a person against a judge (saying) he (the judge) was junior to the father of the person (the accused) who had been granted release recently,” he wondered.
What seems clearly libellous (among others) is the claim that the turnover of a company owned by Jay Shah had grown 16,000 times within just one year. Since this is a well-nigh impossible achievement, and since the news portal had not provided any proofs of the claim made, it could very rightly be regarded as being libellous. After all, if the turnover of the company is claimed to have grown by 16,000 times a year, there could also be the implication that this astounding growth could have come about by other illegal and questioble means.
It is no exaggeration to claim that certain sections of the media have a pronounced tendency of passing off fiction as fact. This is the kind of thing that happens all the time, and the media has not done itself proud by lately promoting the infamous development called paid news. In fact, the very willingness to accept a major aberration like paid news (ratiolized by a section of the media because of its greed for easy money) has done incalculable and permanent damage to the standards of jourlism. As in the past, the Supreme Court has again emerged as the true friends of the people and a true defender of democracy. This should be evident in the fact that the learned judges of the Supreme Court have made it clear that they will not gag the media but that the judiciary will neither abdicate its right to tell the media unpalatable truths about it when the media is guilty of perverting its dharma to the extent of resorting to falsehood merely to achieve inglorious ephemeral objectives. It is imperative that such sections of the media are punished for their misdeeds.
Punished for Buying Jobs
During the nefarious chairmanship of Rakesh Paul, the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) plumbed such low depths of infamy that it will take it years to get back any semblance of the reputation needed for an organization created for very important responsibilities. Paul’s chairmanship of the APSC witnessed the worst forms of corruption that one can think of for an organization to select and recruit officers for the most exalted cadres of the State’s administration. Rakesh Paul was involved in the worst possible swindle that one could imagine for an exalted organization like the APSC. Perhaps the most reprehensible facet of Rakesh Paul’s chairmanship was that he destroyed a vital organization of the State for persol gains reflected in the meteoric enhancement of his persol assets. However, one cannot overlook the role of those educated youths who had no compunctions about buying jobs just because they were unwilling to compete for the prestigious jobs that they aspired for. The fallout of the inglorious initiatives of these youths is now there for all to see. Several of them have lost their jobs (purchased at great cost) and quite a few of them are now in jail. Two of the incarcerated officers whose bail applications were turned down by the Gauhati High Court, subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. The apex court upheld the verdicts of the Gauhati High Court and refused them bail. That apart, there are now eight government officers who had bought their jobs that are now eager to turn approvers in order to save their miserable skins. The interesting facet of the rejected bail applications is that people who resort to unfair means to secure jobs are beginning to discover the very high cost of jobs purchased with parental resources apart from what it does to our hallowed institutions.