Saturday, July 12, 2008

'ATTACK ON PRESS FREEDOM' - Editorial of 30 June 2008 issue of LAW


with a special law abused for aiding and abetting fundamental rights’ violations – the scenario is somewhat reminiscent of the Emergency days, but all this just a few days back. Even if the journalists accused of a newspaper were really involved in insulting a scheduled caste leader by way of burning his effigy after slippering it, by-the-way which mode of condemnation has become very common in socio-political agitations, it is well known that it was only a protest against the preceding attacks against and destruction of property of that newspaper offices committed by that leader’s followers, if not under his instructions, at any rate with his open support. As such the investigating officers, even if a complaint was made under a special law meant for the protection of the scheduled castes and tribes, ought to have known that such protest, though might appear somewhat excessive, does not fall under the scheme and terms of that Act. They ought to also have taken note of the interest of press freedom which could be jeopardized by any hasty action on their part. In any case they should have acted coolly but not in an overzealous and arbitrary manner as they did. There was absolutely no need or reason for them to barge into the press premises in night time and arrest the journalists, and the editor late in the night, when they could have just informed the Court and caused issuance of a summons or warrant for their appearance in connection with the complaint case. But it seems the concerned police authorities acted more per the dictates of their political masters and staged an unseemly drama of midnight arrest of the editor of a largely circulated Telugu daily. Perhaps the ruling party thus wanted to push other more sensational and to-them-detrimental political developments of the day to the sidelights by enacting this high drama but such course bodes ill for the cause of social peace and liberty so much desired in the present tumultuous circumstances §§§