Friday, June 06, 2008

Gujrat cop files sedition case against the Times of India

In a new low in the relations between state Governments and the media, the top cop of the Gujrat Government, Ahmedabad police commissioner O P Mathur filed a case of sedition (FIR's) against the Times of India. This has happened over the past week, ever since the newspaper publishes articles insinuating links between the cop and the underworld. Now, in India, most people are ready to believe that the underworld has links with politicians and policemen at all levels (helped by a large number of movies, as well as many such cases in real life), and if a newspaper publishes such reports, then many people will be very eager to believe such stories.
There is a side to this story where the media is expected to do responsible publishing, and where a story needs to backed up by facts. Now, in the west, this is backed up to some extent by the standards set by the editorial boards of respected newspapers as well as libel laws (not something that is rigidly enforced or practised in India). In India, newspapers and other media are currently in the forefront of highlighting many areas such as corruption, criminality, and various issues in the legal / judicial system. They need to be given some slack in this area.
Sedition is a crime where the accused is being held responsible for acting against the state - this would be commonly applied to people such as terrorists / separatists, counterfeit money producers and traffickers, etc. Applying such cases to newspaper people who file articles against individual policemen is stretching the law by a fair degree, and one would not expect a policeman to do such a thing.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:20 PM