Daily Post 1492
MEDIA – WITNESS / EVIDENCE / SOURCE / TRIAL
If we go by the iconic visuals and the editorial indiscretion displayed by the electronic media in the last few months, in the backdrop of the Sushant Singh Rajput case, gives a feeling that they are out to redefine the criminal justice system. The Republic TV journalist going hysterical and knocking the closed windowpane of Rhea Chakraborty’s car brings to our mind the paparazzi chase of Princess Diana. The second iconic image was the media mob literally chasing the Bihar Police investigators in Mumbai, who were moving around in an auto. These are not random images, they speak of the deep malaise we are in, with no end in sight.
Some other iconic images will make the story clearer. The witnesses on the talk show and the discussion on the course of criminal investigation. The first reporting of the witness is on the television channel and the next stop would be the investigative agency, if it were to happen. The rampage / stampede outside the NCB office in Mumbai by the electronic media, when the suspect was gaining entry into the office, had to be seen to believe. The backdrop of COVID-19, makes it more perilous, both for themselves and also for the police posted to streamline them. In the pandemic, that behaviour is illegal too. Seems no section of the Disaster Management Act applies to them.
The story goes on. The *Soft State* is a term introduced by Gunnar Myrdal in his book Asian drama to describe general societal indiscipline in South Asia. It has been on full display on the TV screens mainly by the self styled Republic. The entry of the Editor in Chief into the Police Station for questioning was with fanfare, more than ever seen for any Magsaysay Award winner in this country. The same modus operandi continues for the other members of the editorial team too, being called to the Police Station for questioning. An interview, as a prelude to entry, also happens in front on the Police Station, with a clarion call for justice etc.
What stands out is that one evening, the team of journalists of the same channel, made near forceful entry into a Police Station. Its was one well orchestrated operation* with *Editor in Chief becoming the Operation in Chief, dictating the operations to the minutest detail from his TV studio. Criminal investigation with a suspect TV channel barging in, is unheard of and is against law. Is it legally, technically and behaviourally proper? A multi-media investigation is on, in their own case, is a trajectory of the criminal justice system, which was beyond imagination, even sometime back. A multi-media electronic Praja Panchayat. And now the challenge of not revealing sources, legality we all know, still it goes on. If it is allowed to go in this direction, it would become very difficult to arrest this trend later. Judicial redressal is the prescribed route for all aggrieved.
ONLY A CIVILISED NATION CAN BE A LAW ABIDING NATION.