Thursday, July 18, 2024

Why NDTV is a shame on journalism

Justice Nyay Bindu and Arvnd Kejriwal

Being a journalist, I hung my head in shame on reading how the NDTV has reported the bail granted to Arvind Kejriwal in the Liquor Scam case by a trial court on which the High Court has subsequently intervened. 

I felt sorry not because I have had any association with the NDTV. Yet the manner in which it has glorified the concerned Judge whose order was called “perverse” by ED, and subsequently sided in the “pause” order of the High Court, makes the media house appear a courtesan selling her assets where she profits the most and not a watchguard protecting People and not Powers’ interests. 

Or how could you justify this report, which glorifies the judge for quoting Benjamin Franklin that “it-is-better-that-100-guilty-person-should-escape-than-an-innocent-person-should-suffer” yet makes no mention of how the ED wasn’t allowed to present its case, how the judge wasn’t prepared to look at evidence, that the bail was granted on “irrelevant considerations” and that no prima facie findings regarding lack of guilt was made.

No mention in NDTV report that the ED was denied an opportunity to seek an effective legal remedy in High Court as it couldn’t lay its hands on the trial court order. “Rather when the counsel for ED tried to enquire from the court after the pronouncement of the order, the court staff was unavailable and the courtroom was empty with the lights switched off,” as per ED.

Not a line in NDTV report that the court staff told the ED counsels that the judge had given instructions not to email or upload the order granting bail, saying it would be available at 10 am on Friday, “effectively depriving ED of any opportunity of challenging the order, prior to release of the bail applicant/accused.” 

Any media house with any shred of shame would question the integrity of any Judge who has been accused of not going through the evidence, not allowing the other party to present its case, whether the Judge made sure the order wasn’t handed to ED before Friday morning etc, etc. Yet here all what NDTV finds worthy of filing a report for its readers is the judge quoting Benjamin Franklin. 

On moving High Court, against the bail granted to Arvind Kejriwal by Justice Nyay Bindu (see pic) of the local trial court, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju called it a “perverse order.”

This is what ASG Raju primarily said: 

“The Court does not hear us, does not look at the documents given by us, saying it’s voluminous…there can’t be a more perverse order than this…without going through documents…without giving us an opportunity, the matter is decided.”

Further, the ED said the trial court judge asked the ASG to cut short his arguments, and only indicate the page numbers that the ED wished to rely upon. The judge also asked the ASG to restrict his arguments to the points argued by the bail applicant. “The learned ASG on more than one occasion submitted that the bail applicant’s counsel has not argued the case on merits, and, therefore, it was incumbent on ED to demonstrate the prosecution case,” said the ED’s petition, but the court struck to its stance.

Further, while giving liberty to Kejriwal to file bail application before trial court, SC did not state that the trial court should consider it while ignoring findings of High Court. 

As per the ED, the judge says there is no direct evidence but there is a statement from the accused Magunta Reddy on Kejriwal demanding Rs 100 crore as bribe; and that the proceeds of the crime were used in the Goa assembly elections and Rs 45cr have been traced thus far in this regard. 

Finally, the ED has pointed out that as per section 45 of PMLA, a trial court while considering bail in money laundering cases has to give a prima facie finding, that the accused is not guilty. “It has no discretion in this case where section 45 of PMLA is involved. The court has to give a prima facie finding that he is not guilty of the offence.”

How alarming it is for India’s democracy when two of its pillars, judiciary and media, begin to lose trust in the eyes of its people and remain unaccountable for its actions. There is no other way to keep them honest than by people rising up against such perversity. 

You google on Kejriwal bail issue and you would practically find the entire Indian mainstream media straining to prove ED wrong and the Delhi CM right, without wondering even once why his closest aide is still rotting in jail or why he evaded the ED’s call on multiple occasions. And try telling yourself this is all innocent stuff, a coincidence and there’s no complicity. Or that this is what investigative agencies deserve after months of hard work, exposing scams which loots your hard-earned money.

The joke–and tragedy–is on you, my dear.

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