Republic under siege: Attacking the media undermines a vital pillar of democracy

By: |
November 5, 2020 6:45 AM

The News Broadcasters Association said that even though it did “not agree with (Goswami’s) type of journalism”, it denounced “retaliatory action, if any by the authorities against a media editor” and asked for due process to be followed.

No one is above the law, though it is true Goswami’s channel often assumes that role since it has shown no compunction in declaring people guilty long before any trial in a court of law.No one is above the law, though it is true Goswami’s channel often assumes that role since it has shown no compunction in declaring people guilty long before any trial in a court of law. (File image)

Even detractors of Republic TV’s founder-editor Arnab Goswami will agree that arresting him in a 2018 abetment-to-suicide case appears to be an instance of political vendetta coming as it does, on top of hundreds of FIRs against Republic’s journalists and the Mumbai police commissioner’s press conference where he named Republic in a TRP-manipulation scam even before the judicial process was complete. Indeed, the sequence of charges does suggest Republic has got caught in a war between the central government and the one in Maharashtra. Indeed, that is why, unlike its statement the last time around, the Editors Guild of India has been quite unequivocal this time. The last time it issued a statement on Republic asking for a halt to the victimisation of journalists, it also spoke of Republic’s “high-strung conduct” in the Sushant Singh Rajput case and how this raised “issues about media credibility and the limits to reporting”. This time, however, it simply said it condemned “the sudden arrest and (found) it extremely distressing”. The News Broadcasters Association said that even though it did “not agree with (Goswami’s) type of journalism”, it denounced “retaliatory action, if any by the authorities against a media editor” and asked for due process to be followed.

No one is above the law, though it is true Goswami’s channel often assumes that role since it has shown no compunction in declaring people guilty long before any trial in a court of law. But the question to be asked, in not just the current case but in the sedition cases filed against journalists or the FIRs filed against journalists in Uttar Pradesh last month is what the remedy is to high-handed action by the state? If the Mumbai police has reopened the case involving an interior designer committing suicide in 2018—the allegation is the designer committed suicide because he had financial problems resulting from Goswami refusing to pay his dues—has it found new evidence to prove the case? It may well have, but the experience with several high-profile cases over the years—whether by state police or central agencies like the CBI and the ED—is that they tend to drag on for decades, sometimes investigations get dropped, and in some instances, the cases are dismissed by the judiciary. Surely there must be a system in place to ensure officers face some kind of penalty when the cases fall apart? If this is not ensured, arrest-and-shame becomes the norm, where the ultimate goal is not conviction, but keeping the ‘accused’ in jail for as long as is possible. Until the state and its various arms hold themselves to a higher standard, the republic will always be under siege.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Business as usual? Adapting to the new normal
2Rationalise GST rate structure to check GST fraud
3Strike Against New Labour Laws: Labour unions or labour aristocracy?