KANGAROO COURTS

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KANGAROO COURTS

A kangaroo court is supposedly a court held by a group of people, to try someone, without having the power to do that, especially without good evidence, as guilty of crime and misdemeanor. Basically, you sit in judgement and pronounce it, using some influence mechanism, which is under your control. It is generally an act of the flimsy and the superficial, certainly lacking the specific expertise and acumen, for sure not authorized, with a specific agenda, which serves their purpose. The purpose can be commercial, ideological, propaganda, pushing somebody else’s agenda, or a combination of these. It can also be making hay while the sun shines, the TRP story, sell what sells.

The degeneration of news media for investigative journalism, editorial independence, to plain peppered news, to news commentary to talks shows, to an opinionated environment, to playing with the facts; camouflaging, omission and what not, we have all experienced. We have now reached the stage of propaganda and fake news. The tone and tenor in the electronic media is both judgmental and outright aggressive. The language is that of the fish market. It seems it can end in a brawl anytime. What damage these talk shows do to the country and sometimes its image outside too, has been specifically displayed in the recent past.

Trail by media, we have hearing for a long time and if unlucky, you would have experienced it too. What damage it does to the individual, organization, dispensation of justice, and social equilibrium, is manifesting in the country in a variety of ways. Recently, Chief Justice of India said media is running Kangaroo courts on issues even experienced judges find it difficult to decide. He is of the opinion that media has taken democracy two steps backward. It has thus negatively impacted the people and harmed the system. On the accountability count, he is of the opinion, that print media even in changed times maintains certain degree of accountability, whereas the electronic media operates with zero accountability.

The level of amplification new media can provide is unparalleled in human history. It seems TRP and other such indicators are final arbiters of their existence and nothing else. It translates into revenue. ”Media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases,” CJI said. Concerted campaigns are run against judges on social media. He is of the opinion that media trials impacts affect judicial functioning. The criticality of the issue he emphasized when he said, ill-informed and agenda driven debates in media on issues pending in courts are affecting justice delivery. Self-regulation has never been successful, it would never be. Media needs to be reined in the interest of justice and social sanity. Stricter media regulations and accountability is the only way forward.

ACCOUNTABILITY IS AT THE CORE OF DEMOCRACY. MEDIA CANNOT BE AN EXCEPTION.
Sanjay Sahay

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