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Editorial

Justice on trial

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By EMN Updated: Nov 26, 2013 12:24 am
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he week just gone by from November 19th to November 25 2013, has been an extraordinary one not just for the nation but particularly for the media.
Two high profile crime stories came to the forefront. One which involved the Tarun Tejpal,Editor –in –chief of the trailblazing Tehelka news magazine for a sexual molestation case and the other the revival of one of post Independent India’s most puzzling case the Aarushi Talwar murder case five and a half years ago as also the Modi and Stalkgate episode.All the incidents have been extensively reported ‘in’ and ‘by’ the media both print and electronic. The involvement of a high profile personality in two cases and the mysterious murder of a teenager in her room five years ago when her parents are the only known other people alive in the flat when the murder took place has had the nation in a grip.
While lament over the issue of the death of morality, in one incident the dubious role of the prime crime investigating agency in the other are being debated … a slow turning of the wheel is being noticed with the needle slowly pointing to the media and the role it has played in delivering the news to the public.
Some people have begun to argue that the hysteria and hype over the incidents have largely been contributed by the media who react even before all the fact are placed before them.. The media reporting in the events have also been charged for not equally highlighting the version of the accused party as much as the other side.
There may be arguments for the manner in which the facts are narrated or presented (in tv for eg) but no facts are being fabricated by the media on these incidents.
What needs to be learnt from these incidents is how the agencies responsible for handling these incidents in this case the police, (CBI in particular in the Aarushi Talwar case )and in the case of Tehelka ,the manner in which the media house managed the dissemination of information to ironically its own counterpart other media establishments.
The courts have not pronounced it verdict yet on the Tehelka case but in the eyes of the public the trial is long over in the media for Tejpal. That it may well turn out to be so is another matter but this does not remove the thin line that exists between becoming the observer and also the judge. There are tendencies that the media has shown particularly in the two instances above to be inclined to be the judge. But what is heartening is that there is a conscious effort on the part of the media (especially the national media ) to ‘stagger’a little when the cases lie in the courts of law. And this is all towards a better impact, towards a society which can interpret for itself what is being said and read between the lines and words to get to the truth.
Such stories are bluntly and plainly being laid out in the public domain especially making up a chunk of the prime newshour discussions on television.The reactions are equally loud and reactive by the participants. Discussions on politically sensitive subjects have been increasing on television and hotly debated.
The underlying reality in all of this is that television has well and truly entrenched itself in the Indian psyche and more than ever before the responsibility that will weigh upon those who steer these channels may just have reached a new height. The term ‘trial by media’ is now in danger of turning into ‘justice on trial’.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 26, 2013 12:24:46 am