Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lawyers, Media, and Lame Investigation

Have you seen this interview on CNN-IBN, Sagarika Ghose interviewing Ram Jethmalani?

The key arguments of the lawyer are:
  • Media should not judge cases, and pronounce judgements.
  • Media often prejudices public opinion against an accused. The accused has the right to a fair trial.
  • The accused has the right to a good lawyer

The key arguments of the media person are:

  • A lawyer as well-known as him shouldn't take up a case such as this one.
  • If media does not raise hue and cry - accused will go scot free.

The lawyer here is indeed right in saying, it is the job of the judiciary to pronounce judgements, and not of the media to do that, and prejudice opinion against the accused while the case is pending in a court of law. This argument has merit because - judgements cannot and should not be pronounced based on rhetoric. Hard Evidence - is the key to this - and this is a well established practice across the world.

What has caused this kind of a situation: Lame Investigation. This fact though is not brought up in the above interview by the media person. If the investigation was done promptly and properly, and witnesses were not afraid to come forward - we would have better chance of bringing out the truth. Do we need urgent reforms in our Investigative Process? Perhaps yes.

We need more excellent honest officers and talent going into investigation teams, police force, the executive. Until that happens, we need to be prepared to argue our cases with top lawyers, media persons and candle light vigils.


At 6:47 AM, Blogger Ashish said...

Agreed almost totally.
I do believe that the media has a role to play in disclosing things that need to be brought out, but more as news and not as judgements. Without a healthy nosy media, government agencies will wreak havoc in the country, doing things under influence and so on.

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous shark said...

Agreed completely.

But the media did not interfere in the case before. Did it? The accused were aquitted. Isn't it?

The media came into picture only when it was obvious that the investigations were not carried properly and also witnesses turned hostile..almost every one of them. That means there is something grossly wrong.

Also, why should whatever the media is saying affect the court? It's outside the court, all this is happening.. the jury or the judges are "supposed" to make judgements based on witness and records not on what the majority of the people feel!

Manu Sharma might be or might not be a murderer, I have no way of knowing that.. but the Judge is "supposed" to find out.

What happened with this case, the media attention and stuff, is really good in a way. This way atleast now the highly influenced people will think twice before committing any crime.

Though this is NOT the solution to it, atleast it's a good step.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous silkboard said...

If Jethmalani does lose the case, I hope there would be some punishment meted out to him for wasting so much time of courts and countrymen.

If he manages to win (that mysterious 'tall' sikh is proved to be the murder), then there may not be any more trials by public-media in India in future.

At 8:29 AM, Anonymous ekawaaz said...

Media does have role in our society, but now a day’s media is interfering too much in our secular judicial system. I do appreciate their work and their fight towards social cause. But what happening now a days is worrying situation, media is interfering almost in every way of our constitutional entity and questioning the judicial system, I don’t think is right way because end of the day accused will be only accused and innocents till he/she get convicted for the crime they had committed. If we watch today’s media role in every case what ever they highlights now a days they portrays accused as convicted killer which is not right in anyway. Public get too emotional because of this and judicial system comes under more pressure. What Media can do is highlights the cases, and the wrong doings but don’t portrays accused as convicted killer. Questioning our judicial system is not correct way.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Musings on India said...

Capitalism rewards those who generate increasing profits quarter after quarter. As we all know most media companies in India, other than Doordarshan, are controlled by capitalistic entities (fund management companies, VC funds, listed on stock exchanges...). Advertising revenue is what counts at the end of the day not journalism. The same is true of media worldwide. But the media industry is a lot deeper and a lot more mature in a lot of countries simply because it has had the time to reach this state. India has just started moving on this path and media companies seem to be finding it tough to balance commercial goals with journalist values. I think over time they will find the balance.

But this does not take away from the fact that Indian people have not had any say. Their main voice, the politicians, are crooks so if the judiciary and the media is providing some voice to all the suppressed sounds kind of ok to me as long as some equilibrium is reached at some point.

At 3:02 AM, Blogger Rahul Sengupta said...

I entirely agree with 'musings on India'.

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Hiren said...

For certain kinds of cases where it is obvious that the law is subverted, only the media can save our skin. If the media does not make a hue and cry in such cases, what the hell is it for?

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

Well...Lets hope the investigations(by police/cbi) are done properly, promptly and honestly... so that evidence can speak for itself!

The worrying part of media is not reporting, not raising issues; but passing judgements. With great power comes great responsibility - as the Spidy Says!

Another aspect that second rung media(the 'Aaj Tak' variety) in India needs to watch out is not to bring private lives and problems of individuals/families live on news. Its such a shame. We have had husband, wives, in-laws dragged live on prime time news - where journalists just walk into a house with cameras rolling and start asking questions based on one person accusing another. One man's misery should not become a spectacle for another man. This must end.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Bharati said...

I agree the media takes a biased and mysandrist stance.
Recently Aaj Tak portrayed a an abusive foul mouthed lady as a victim when the reality was that the husband was the one who was a victim.

Also Sagarika asked unfair question to Swarup whether he beleives it right of men to beat wives. Shouldn;t she have asked the equal question whether Flavia agnes belives that it is alright for women to legally abuse their husbands.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Bharati said...

I have reviewed more then 100 cases using the AMMA Methodology (Assertion Material Methodology of Analysis ) . which came to our organisations and have come to dismaying conclusion that the police is just going by standard presumptions and just blindly charges using presumptions and testimonials of the complainant .

They are not moved by the even the complete absense of a perticular hospital from where the "victim" claimed to have been hospitalised .
Media has not even chosen to high light those cases . They are blood thirsty but never have they tried even to provide succour to innocent accused


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