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Against any legislation to restrain media: Moily

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 - 22:52

New Delhi: Observing that the government and
the media have a common interest in protecting democracy and
the people, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said he was
against any legislation to "restrain" the role of the fourth

"Government and the media have a common interest in
defending people and democracy...the Government should work
towards harnessing the power of media, which is not
happening," Moily said.

The Law Minister said he was "against any legislation to
restrain media. I favour an affirmative media policy based on

He was addressing a seminar on crime investigation and
the role of media. "Even India`s first Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru had favoured a free media," he added.

Speaking on the occasion, CBI Director Ashwini Kumar
said at times even before an investigation is started by
enforcement agencies, media had pronounced judgement and it
has not ended in one conviction in such cases.

"Whether you call it Satyendra Dubey (NHAI engineer
killed in Bihar), you call it Bofors, you quote any case. The
Jain hawala case. Everything was in the media. What happened
in the end," Kumar asked.

He also said that the best way to avoid media getting
half-baked stories was self-restraint. "I cannot restrain
anybody...I can only restrain myself. Therefore, the police
agencies must restrain themselves when they talk to the
media," he said.

IG (Operations) of the National Investigation Agency
Loknath Behra said pictures of accused appearing in media
often created problems during the test identification parade
(TIP) -- where the witness identifies the accused -- as it can
become "influenced".

He said during the IC-814 hijacking case, the pictures of
the accused were splashed in newspapers. "Though they
(accused) are not in India, when they come, the TIP can be
affected," he said.

Over the ongoing debate on whether media is exceeding its
limits with regard to trials of criminal cases, Justice
Pradeep Nandrajog from the Delhi High Court termed it as a
clash between two values of a democratic society.

He said the right to freedom of speech and information
as well as the right to have a fair trial are two important
values and one can not think of a civil society without any of
these two values.

"This is the time where we need to have a harmonious
balance...," said Justice Nandrajog while citing the comments
of some foreign authors over the issue.

Journalist Pankaj Vora said problem begins when police
tries to hide information from mediapersons.

He appreciated the role of the media in countering
pressures to influence any investigation.

Another journalist Pankaj Pachauri said the electronic
media has framed guidelines for itself. "But when we go wrong,
the people should complain. Now we have a system for that," he
said adding that the `chalta hai` attitude has to end.

Delhi Police Joint Commissioner Ajay Kashyap said at
times journalists lack sensitivity to understand what is at

"The way the media has been covering the encounter in
Jamia Nagar in which we lost one inspector...the subsequent
investigation led to the apprehension of one of the two people
who actually got away in the encounter.

"Over the last year and a half, we have been facing
certain criticism that the police version of the events was
not correct....the arrest of one of the accused by another
state police strengthened the story of the police put before
the courts," he said expressing his "personal views".


First Published: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 - 22:52

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