Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Media as the judge

A couple of days ago, the CJI issued a statement that "trial by media is destructive to society". Needless to say, this comes as a response to the reporting of high profile cases like the Jessica Lall and the Mattoo ones.

The media has been playing truant for a long time. Calls itself impartial and reports with an agenda that does not include the fairness and justice in mind. The news coverage is usually sensational, which cannot be done without being biased. Being impartial and explaining the grey areas is too boring. So, they create dramatic recreations with the culprit already established, even when the courts havn't pronounced the sentence.

Do I need to say that passing judgements on issues that are still in court and where the "culprit" is someone the police have identified. The important thing to note is that the police are not the ones who decide whom to punish but for the judge to adjudicate, by looking at all the evidence gathered, whether the person on trial is guilty or not. Judge not media or "public opinion".

The Jessica Lall case is now quite famous. The culprit was aquited for lack of evidence but the case was reopened following public pressure. Now, is the person in question guilty or not? Quite frankly, all the information that I have about this case is from the media and people's statements. Can we form an opinion based on media's presentation of the case and the words of people that we read in the newspaper and television? Yes, we can but we need to realise that all these information are secondary and we are not in a position to pass a verdict on the supposed "culprit". Do I believe that the Manu Sharma is guilty of the crime? Yes, I do but that does not mean that I will protest a famous lawyer taking up his case. Because if he is guilty and there is overwhelming evidence, as the media points out, for his culpability, then the court will punish him. Of course, there are also concerns about witnesses turning hostile. That is a problem, agreed but I do not see how Ram Jethmalani is going to influence that, unless we accuse him of malpractices.

Besides, I just watched this interview of Jethmalani, which was telecast on CNN-IBN and I have to say that I am impressed with him. He really has a beef with the media and he lambasts them with such contempt that I cannot help but laugh at the poor girl who thinks she has some tough questions for him!

Watch it and laugh alongside.

The interview reveals many things.

1. Sagarika Ghose: But sir, aren’t you worried that you are going against the tide of public opinion?

The media thinks it represents the people or at least says it is. And that somehow gives them the right to be so self-righteous!

2. Sagarika Ghose: But as a criminal lawyer, don't you believe there is a lakshman rekha that even all criminal lawyers have to work under?

The press somehow believes that it can dictate where the so called "laxman rekhas" are. This is as sad as the moral policing conducted by some of our esteemed police constables!

3. Sagarika Ghose: The Press at the end of the day is only expressing the opinion of the Indian public.

The media is goddamn humble. "we are just the messengers". Sheesh! spare me the bullshit.

4. Sagarika Ghose: But what makes you so convinced about the innocence of Manu Sharma?

Ram Jethmalani: I don’t have to convince myself. I am only convinced that the man is entitled to a fair trial. He is entitled to the services of a good lawyer. Courts will decide and no Pressman, no editor or television will crew will decide.

I have nothing to add here.

5. Sagarika Ghose: But is this how you want to be known in the public eye?

ROFL. Is that veiled threat to a man who has already said "to hell with you"?

6. Sagarika Ghose: What is wrong with an activist Press—a Press that speaks for the underdog.

There is the trumpet again. Blowing it must give them long, happy moments from their stressful, activist lifestyle!

7. Sagarika Ghose: But you aren’t giving me an answer – why are you defending Manu Sharma.

Ram Jethmalani: Because he is my client. I am lawyer.

The press is really stupid, is it not? What kind of a sorry ass question is that?

8. Sagarika Ghose: So you have taken on the case because you are angry at the way the Press has been trying him by media.

Ram Jethmalani: Now that is very stupid and a big lie. I have never said it.

The press tries to put words into people's mouths. It has been doing it for a long time but Jethmalani is too old and wise for such tactics.

9. Sagarika Ghose: Where the high and mighty buy the process of justice, Press is the sounding board. It is the only recall.

Ram Jethmalani: You can give yourself all the tributes that you want. This is self-praise. By all means, adopt it, pocket it, publicise it, take credit it. But when you are doing something wrong, I will say you are doing wrong. I have the liberty in a democracy. People have the liberty to go wrong and you are going wrong.


10. And the final word...

Sagarika Ghose: You are the one who seems so angry at the Press.

Ram Jethmalani: It is because of what I hear from you. If you represent the real Press, then I think something is wrong.

This was one lovely interview. If you do look very carefully, you will realise the amazing way the press tries to manipulate the public opinion. declaring itself as the vassal of the public and asking stupid questions in an interview where they have already taken a side and questioning motives, etc, etc.

Hat tip: Kafila

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1 comment:

ashish said...

Nice one.... Regards,

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