Intro : The government’s action against the three news channels has sent a strong message that one cannot (read media) meddle with the verdict of the Supreme Court.
A news item published recently in an English daily saying that the government has served show cause notices to three TV channels—ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak is a welcome step. It has restored the trust in the system that the common man and the families of the victims had lost after the heinous 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
The Information & Broadcasting ministry served notices to Aaj Tak and ABP News channels for denigrating and “casting aspersions on the integrity” of the judiciary by telecasting a telephonic interview with the underworld gangster Chhota Shakeel. In the course of the interview, the gangster had said, “Yakub Memon’s hanging was an act of vengeance rather than justice.”
The NDTV was served the notice because it telecast Yakub Memon’s lawyer Majeed Memon refering to a defendant who, according to him, had been pardoned despite having played a much bigger role in the bombings. The lawyer allegedly said authorities outside Bharat would laugh at the pardon and ask, “Is this justice?”
According to the government, Majeed Memon’s outburst had demeaned the judiciary, and insinuated that it was not at par with the judicial systems in countries such as the US and the UK.
The Bharatiya TV viewers must be aware that a week before the hanging of Mumbai serial blast accused Yakub Memon, the news channels of this country went over-board and carried a single point agenda – to question the authenticity of Memon’s hanging. The channels spared none — right from the President of Bharat to the Supreme Court — and questioned the verdict. To make matters worse, the news channels ABP News and Aaj Tak allowed the gangster Chhota Shakeel to use their platform to give ‘clean chit’ to Yakub Memon.
What was the idea behind such a preposterous way of covering an incident? Was it to project Chhota Shakeel above the President and the Supreme Court?
There was a visible attempt (read conspiracy) by a section of the media to prove Yakub ‘innocent’ and save him from the gallows. Even a few newspapers were not far behind in eulogising Memon — after he was hanged, they carried front page news depicting him as a ‘war hero’!
Why so? Under the garb of presenting ‘righteous and uncompromising journalism’, the TV channels in fact got into a rat race to increase their TRP ratings by all means. Nobody cared that in the process, the media crossed its ethical boundary.
After all who cares for those innocent citizens—the common nameless Indians—whose lives were abruptly brought to an end by the blasts?
Had any of the journalists working in these TV channels or newspapers bothered, they wouldn’t have gone ahead with such anti-national news.
Who gave the media the permission to challenge the President of Bharat and the Supreme Court’s verdict? Are we living in a Maoist land, where justice is done in Kangaroo courts? Forgetting its basic role, the media has now started giving judgments by holding such ‘Kangaroo courts’ at prime time news hours in the name of ‘panel discussions’.
The government’s notice might not mean much, as a section within the media and outside have already slammed the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for its action.
Several channels have been served notices and given warnings in the past for violating the ‘Programme and Advertising Codes’, but no licences have ever been revoked. The so-called offenders have been mostly let off after they have issued formal apologies. Some have been asked to go off air for a few days as extreme punishment. However, for the commonman and for all those family members of the victims, who either got killed or became permanently disabled due to the blasts, the notice served to these three channels, is a relief. Because, by hailing Yakub Memon and lobbying for converting his hanging to life term in prison, the media insulted the families of the deceased.
The government’s action against the ABP News, NDTV and Aaj Tak has sent a strong message that one cannot (read media) meddle with the verdict of the Supreme Court of Bharat, hail a terrorist and garner support from a criminal in favour of an accused. The media must stop its dirty tricks to boost its revenues.
(The opinion expressed in this column is solely that of the writer–Nameless Indian)