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Suggest ways to improve reporting: Delhi HC tells news channels

Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal, who also appeared on behalf of Bollywood entities, submitted that there’s a disjunct between the normative idea of journalism and the work done by a certain section of TV media.

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Delhi High Court

New Delhi, Nov 9 : The Delhi High Court on Monday issued summonses to various media channels, including Times Now and Republic TV, on a petition filed by four Bollywood associations and 34 producers, and asked these outlets to come up with a “reasonable solution” for improvement in standards of news reporting.

The petitioners have sought a restraint on news channels from making or publishing what they dubbed as “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory” remarks against Hindi film industry and its members.

Justice Rajiv Shakdhar sought the responses from media channels and posting the matter for further hearing on December 14.

While the court was hearing the matter through videoconference, petitioners’ counsel Rajiv Nayar submitted that it all started with the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which became murder, then Bollywood became criminal, then drug peddlers and now ISI-linked. “This is the course of this defamation complaint,” he said.

He prayed that objectionable content be removed from the social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter. “What I want immediately is that the scurrilous stuff that has gone on Youtube and Twitter be removed immediately,” Nayar pleaded before the court.

Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal, who also appeared on behalf of Bollywood entities, submitted that there’s a disjunct between the normative idea of journalism and the work done by a certain section of TV media.

“Courts have traditionally, in the past, expressed the hope about self-regulation, auto-course correction. So they have been circumspect. But the point is — it (course correction) is not taking place,” he added.

Sibal argued that the Press cannot convict anyone. “Evidence is scrutinised by the court, not by the media channels,” he remarked.

“There is a statutory scheme under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, which these channels are bound to abide by,” he submitted.

The court questioned: “Why haven’t they (Bollywood celebs) become a party to this suit themselves? Since they are aggrieved, they should approach individually.” It said that this shows that these individuals are hesitant in claiming damages.

The High Court also questioned news channels what should be done to improve reporting standards. “If you are not exercising self-restraint, then what shall we do? Your undertaking before the courts are not working too,” the court observed.

“The black-and-white Doordarshan era was much better, I feel,” it added.

“People are scared about the Fourth Estate. Even if the issue regarding the privacy of public figures is diluted, you (news channels) cannot drag their personal lives into the public domain,” said Justice Rajiv Shakdhar.

The petitioners have urged the court to see that the defendants abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.

This comes in the wake of alleged use of words and expressions like “dirt”, “filth”, “scum” and “druggies”, “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine- and LSD-drenched Bollywood” by these channels.

The privacy of members of Bollywood was getting invaded, the plea contended, and their reputations irreparably damaged as the entire industry was painted as criminals seeped in drug culture. To be a part of Bollywood was painted as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination, the petitioners said.

India

PM must wake up to reality about poverty: Chidambaram

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chidambaram

A day after 15 migrant construction workers, including a child, were crushed to death by a truck in Gujarat’s Surat, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday slammed the Modi government at the Centre, saying it is time that the Prime Minister woke up to reality and not repeat the statistics about toilets, housing and open defection-free numbers fed by bureaucrats.

In a statement, Chidambaram said, “The tragedy of 15 migrant construction workers being run over and killed in Gujarat must open our eyes to the reality of poverty in India.”

Firing salvos at the government, former Finance Minister Chidambaram asked “why were the workers sleeping on the roadside? Is not the contractor obliged to provide them shelter near the construction site? Where do they wash, bathe, cook and keep their children? On the roadside in the open?”

“The Prime Minister must wake up to the reality and not repeat the ‘statistics’ about toilets, housing and ODF fed by bureaucrats,” he said.

His remarks came a day after at least 15 migrant labourers from Rajasthan, including a child sleeping near a road were crushed to death and six others injured by a speeding dumper truck in Surat.

The incident happened when the dumper truck lost control and ran over some 20 sugarcane farm labourers. Twelve were killed on the spot, one died while being shifted to hospital and two succumbed later during treatment while six others were being treated in hospital.

–IANS

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Leaking classified info act of ‘treason’: Cong on Arnab chat

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Arnab Goswami

Upping the ante against the government over journalist Arnab Goswami’s purported social media chat leak, the Congress on Wednesday described it as an act of “treason” and demanded an immediate inquiry over leaking of such classified information about the Balakot air strikes.

The Congress also said it will raise the issue of the alleged chat leaks in Parliament’s Budget session.

The Congress brought out several senior members of the party to corner the government over the issue with former Defence Minister A.K. Antony, former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Law Minister Salman Khurshid and party spokesperson Pawan Khera.

Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters, Antony said, “The contents of the leaked chats between Goswami of Republic TV and the former CEO of BARC is a serious issue for the entire nation.”

Antony said that for a very patriotic Indian, it is a shock and a serious matter of concern because it affects national security.

The Congress leader said that it effects the security of armed forces, especially in this case, the security of brave air warriors. “And also in the way they (Goswami and BARC CEO) mentioned the martyrdom of 40 CRPF men is all a serious concern for us,” Antony said.

He said that the people of the country and the political parties might have differences on several issues but are united when it comes to national security cutting across the religious and party lines to protect the country.

“But now it is very clear that classified documents that too considering the national security and also considering the most sensitive secret air strikes were available with the people who were not expected to know it, and were not authorised to get these documents,” Antony said.

He said “I am very sad and shocked” over the leaked chats between Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and the language they used while mentioning the martyrdom of 40 CRPF troopers.

Firing salvos at the government, the Congress leader said, “Three days before the Balakot air strikes, how did one journalist come to know of the details of it? It would have effected the operation and its effectiveness.”

Only very few people are expected to be in the know of such secret information, to know the details of the military operations. “Even all the Cabinet ministers are not expected to get that as only a few handful of people and few military people are informed about such operations,” he said.

“These documents were leaked to the media, but not the entire media but to only one journalist by the people who were in top positions of the government,” he alleged.

“Leaking official secrets about the military operation, national security matters, sensitive military operations especially air force strike is treason and anti-national activity,” he alleged.

“It is not only criminal activity, it is anti-national activity and a treason. Whoever has done they must be punished for anti-national activities and treason,” he said.

Questioning the silence of the government over the issue, Antony said, “Even till today the government has not said anything on this. I am sure these anti-national activities or leakage of secret military operations was among the four or five civilian people. I don’t suspect anybody. But one of them is suspect. It needs to be enquired immediately on a war footing. And whoever is guilty should be punished for treason.”

He also said that the journalist who got such secret military operation details has to be punished.

“Urgently the government must order an enquiry. And whoever is responsible and whoever is part of the leakage of military operations should be shown no mercy and he has to be punished,” Antony said.

Shinde said that what Goswami has done is not just shameful for the country but also for journalism. “In last several years no media organisation or any journalist has done such act,” he said.

He said that the country has seen several wars and the governments of different parties, but such an act of leakage of official secrets was never witnessed.

“They were celebrating on Pulwama after our 40 CRPF troopers were killed in a terror attack,” the former Home Minister said, referring to the chats of Goswami and Partho Dasgupta.

On Tuesday, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had also slammed the government and said that leaking sensitive information related to national security to a journalist is a “criminal act” and persons behind this should be put in prison.

–IANS

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Leaking national secret to journalist is a criminal act: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi Farmers

New Delhi, Jan 19 : Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that leaking sensitive information related to the national secret of a planned attack to a journalist is a “criminal act” and persons behind this should be put in prison.

To a question about the alleged chats discussing the Balakot air strike after the February 14, 2019 Pulwama terror strike on CRPF convoy, Rahul Gandhi said, “Leaking of any sensitive information is a criminal act. This applies to the person who sends it and the person who receives it.”

He said that such a sensitive issue was a subject of national secret regarding a planned air strike which is only either with the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Union Defence Minister, Indian Air Force Chief and the National Security Advisor.

“I want to know who among the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister or NSA leaked secret information to the journalist. This is a criminal act. If the journalist had such information on his WhatsApp, I assume the Pakistanis too had it,” he said.

He also said that by leaking such information to a journalist risked the IAF fighter jets and pilots and this was not an act of “patriotism”.

He also said for leaking such a classified information, the process of putting the people in prison should start.

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