Journalists withdraw 'boycott' after Pawar offers apology

Mumbai: Within hours of Union Minister Sharad Pawar saying he had no qualms about tendering a public apology if his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had used abusive language against scribes, journalists on Friday announced they were withdrawing their agitation.

Since Saturday, media in Maharashtra has been at loggerheads with Ajit Pawar for his remarks and there is an ongoing agitation by scribes, which includes non-coverage of his functions and those of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

"I have been reading about it (the controversy) in newspapers and as the chief of NCP, I won't mind tendering a public apology if any derogatory language has been used," Pawar told reporters at Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.

Soon after, at a meeting of the Patrakar Halla Virodhi Samiti, which spearheaded the agitation, it was decided to end the boycott. The Samiti, however, announced that journalists would stage protests in the state on February 15 to demand immediate enactment of a law on attacks on media.

Denying that he ever made comments about 'stifling' the media during a function in Nanded district on Saturday, Ajit Pawar recently told the Chief Minister that he will not accept the blame for what he did not say.

"I have been quoted as saying that journalists should be thrashed. There is no question of accepting what I have not said, in the first place," Ajit Pawar had said in a written explanation to the Chief Minister.

On Wednesday, journalists from print and electronic media boycotted the post-cabinet press briefing scheduled to be addressed by the Chief Minister, to protest Ajit Pawar's remarks against them.


New Delhi: "No government wants strong judiciary," was how the Supreme Court on Friday expressed its exasperation over the low budgetary allocation to the judiciary.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said less than one per cent of the budget is alloted to the judiciary which is facing a huge infrastructural problem and shortage of manpower.

"No government wants strong judiciary. It is only on the paper. Look at the budgetary allocation. It is less than one per cent," the bench remarked while pointing out that the judiciary is overloaded and a large number of courts need to be set up across the country for speedy justice delivery.

Pointing out the infrastructural problem and growing vacancies in the judiciary, the court said, "it is a very very difficult situation. If by chance the government does it (setting up more courts), then we have difficulty in getting competent people."

The court's remarks came while hearing a petition filed by former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh on phone-tapping case. It expressed its displeasure over the tardy of progress in the trial of the case.