Media Trial Vs Fair Trial
Recently, Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Mr. Sunil Ambwani, during his comments on the subject ‘media trial and its impacts on society & judicial system’, stated that every-one has the right to a fair trial. However, it is evident that when media starts creating rumors on any renowned personality, this indirectly leads the judiciary to give decision according to public opinion created by the media. Delhi High Court has also shown concerns over media trial unnecessarily impacting judiciary’s decisions in pending cases thereby discarding basic moral values.
In the hearing of a petition, Justice Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court said that accused’s statements made u/s 161 and 164 of Cr.P.C. are forwarded to media, which leads into a situation where the media trial runs parallel to the trial in the court. Former Chief justice of the SC, Mr. Altamas Kabir has also stated that media trial is prejudicial to the interests of the accused. Similarly, Former Chief justice of the SC, Mr. Radhakrishnan said that media trial helps making public opinion which may further adversely impact judiciary’s decisions. By reason of media trial, certain people may be deprived of a fair trial in the court of law. Patna High Court’s advocate Mr. Ravishankar Singh said that England has stringent laws on media trial under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (sections 1-7). Sec2 (2) also prohibits print and electronic media to publish any content which may hinder a fair trial.
It is also requisite to have such laws in India too so as to ensure that the individual accused has the right to a free and un-biased trial.
Mr. Ashok Singhal of ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ also stated that media trial is a conspiracy by western countries to create anti-Hindu environment. Media Analyst Mr. Utpal Kalal said that by leveling false allegation on Hindu saints, thereby hurting religious sentiments by media trial, this will definitely weaken our democratic system. This ought to be reined by the government, judiciary and the public.
Yogi Arvind, who was an un-biased journalist, contributed significantly towards creating awareness by using the press during the war of independence. He was later on imprisoned over false allegations during the British regime even though he left no stone unturned in his patriotic activities during his one year span in the jail.
Now coming to the case of Sant Shri Asharam Ji Bapu (hereinafter called as ‘Bapuji’), Delhi Doordarshan presented a discussion on exaggerated reaction of media during this case. Mr. Pramod Joshi, a senior journalist & writer has shown concerns on fabricated news aired by media, which needs to be verified and controlled. Mr. Vineet Kumar (media analyst), Mr. Avinash Pandey (COO, ABP news) and Mr. Arun Ramtirthkar (senior reporter) stated that in order to survive in the industry, media houses cannot sustain only from the income received from advertisements but they need to have a consistent income from other sources. Consequently, Bapuji had never paid money for publicity and hence, he has been an obvious sore in the eyes of such media houses. Dr. N.S. Rajaram, an Indian mathematician, notable for his publications on the Aryan Invasion debate, Indian history, and Christianity, concluded after research that many big media houses, namely the Times Group, Star TV, the Hindustan Times, the Hindu, the Indian Express, the Statesman, the Matribhumi, the Asian Edge and Deccan Chronicle, NDTV, CNN-IBN, Malayalam Manorama etc are being run by foreign agencies involved in conversions.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician who has taken over the responsibility to fight Bapuji’s case, has revealed the following statistics on defamatory coverage by Indian media:
|Channel||Defamatory Coverage On Shankaracharya
Jayendra Saraswati’s arrest
|India TV||450 hours||0 minute|
|IBN7||325 hours||0 minute|
|Aaj Tak||356 hours||3 minutes|
|Star News||344 hours||1 minute|
|NDTV||280 hours||3 minutes|
|Zee news||260 hours||1 minute|
All these channels disseminated defamatory contents for hours including debates but the truth of Him being innocent was hardly aired and only for a few minutes.
Sachin Goyal said that murder mystery in Chhindwara Gurukul (at M.P.) was shown on TV channels in a derogatory manner. However, after talking with the disciples, ‘Press Ki Takat’ team realized that the deceased children’s parents said that they were staying in Bapuji’s ashrams by their free will and rumor was that they were confined by Bapuji, which was not true. Such concocted tales do not spoil Bapuji’s image amongst His disciples but do taint media’s image in public opinion.
This media, which is accountable to spread the genuine news, is spreading rumors and concocted tales to increase TRP of its channels. To a great extent, Indian media has not fulfilled its responsibility of disseminating the truth without distorting the facts, as such, media trial is the biggest reason to create or tarnish one’s image, thus impacting adversely the decisions of the judiciary.
SC has ordered to 3 central ministries, Indian Press Council and other allied agencies to frame guidelines in order to ensure quality control on the contents shown on the television. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Mr. P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is in line to become the Chief Justice of India in October 2018, issued notice to the Ministry Of The Information And Broadcasting, Ministry Of Law And Justice Ministry Of IT, Election Commission, Newspaper Broadcast Foundation and Advertising Standards Council Of India to give counter statement on the PIL filed by the registered trust ‘Hindu Janjagruti Samiti’, which demanded a regulatory system for channels. There is no censor system available in television, because of which, the objectionable and obscene contents are easily available on the TV channels. Objectionable Contents Control enactment is in force for websites only; for example, we have – ‘Procedure And Safeguards for Blocking Access of Information by Public, 2009’- but such enactment is lacking in case of TV channels. Even though the government can reject/suspend the licenses of such channels involved in spreading false & fabricated and paid news, it has taken no serious steps in the direction so far.
Nation’s President Mr. Parnab Mukherjee has criticized the approach of paid media of creating “breaking news” to attract the public and improve TRP, rather than spreading the news based on facts. Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP’s spokesperson in 2013, has shown concerns on the plight of Hindu saints whose image can be tarnished by media easily. However, the said media forgets to cover the news about churches and mosques where certain priests and certain maulvis were found guilty of rape. On the other hand, Bapuji has appreciated some electronic news outlets like Newsworld, A2Z channel, Sudarshan News and a few others who are involved in disseminating the fair and unbiased news even in such a defamatory environment.
IBN-7’s former Managing Director Mr. Ashutosh has said that sensationalized news are further spread by other media houses without doing much effort to find the facts and there is no sieve to filter the authentic and unauthentic news.
Mr. Suresh Chavhanke (Chairman at Sudarshan News) says that he dares to spread the authentic news related to Bapuji in order to save our cultural values which are attacked by fabricated and frivolous news by other TV channels. According to ‘Sanatan Prabhat’, the renowned channel ‘Aaj tak’ had started a debate on September 5, 2013 at 6 PM, but the program was wound up right after Sanantan Sanstha’s national spokesperson – Mr. Abhay Vartak quoted the facts of the rape of 13 minor Manipuri girls in ‘Grace Church Home’. This clearly gives an indication of the channel’s involvement in working for missionaries with malafide intent.
Dainik Dhanushdhari’s Editor Mr. Lalwani, who used to lead a life full of vices few years back, (reformed after taking initiation from Bapuji), said that despite this defamatory environment for Bapuji; His disciples still wait for His darshan (glimpse) and these innocent people are depicted by paid media as ‘Gundaas’. Irrespective of all the distorted facts by media, Mr Lalwani asserted that Bapuji will come back as a shining star – brighter than ever before – amongst the clouds of such defamation.
Ms. Shilpa Agarwal, a famous psychologist, mentions as to how the false and fabricated news is presented to the people and how this in turn pollutes the minds of public. The focus of this news is to:-
- Target on educated & well-aware public.
- Raise relevant Issue – women’s safety and protection & rights.
- Repetition of the false news every now and then so that it appears true.
- A simple news byte is presented using many terms to sensationalize it.
- Misuse of technology in morphed videos, audios etc. to befool the unwary public.
- Anti Bapuji statements made by the expelled disciples (for their indiscipline in ashram) or the people paid/threatened by conspirators during TV channel debates & interviews.
- Preparing psychologically negative environment before bail hearing in Bapuji’s case by spreading rumors of threats given to the police, judiciary and parents of the alleged rape victim or the alleged rape victim by associating it with Bapuji or His disciples.
Arunesh C. Dave, an active social media user, has said that Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression given to media does not entitle media to run media trial and tarnish image of anyone without proof, as is done in Bapuji’s case, when the case is still sub-judice. According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishop survey, 4000 priests were found guilty of sexual assault cases during 1950-2002 and 11,000 children became victimized by such so called “religious preachers”.
|Priests %||Repetition of offence|
|25 %||Twice or thrice|
|13 %||4-9 times|
|3 %||10 times|
|Number of children %||Age group of children|
|78 %||11-17 years|
|16 %||11-17 years|
|6 %||7 years or less than 7 years|
Why such things do not come in limelight? Why do such acts get suppressed by the media? There appears to be a clear connection between the news raised by the media Vs funding for the functional of such media houses. The concocted tale of rape with a minor is presented as more sensational news and it is a clear attack on our Hindu saints.
We, as citizens of India and followers of our revered “Guru”, hereby demand fair trial and condemn media trial, which has caused adverse impact on Bapuji’s case for last 18+ months.