ये है एनके सिंह का काटजू को लिखा गया पहला पत्र : From: N K Singh, To: Markandey Katju, Subject: Media control: Throwing the baby out with the bath water, Date: Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:03 PM, I hv tried to present the case against govt regulation of electronic media and the efforts made by the Broadcast Editors' association. If we could get your appreciation for the arguments given in this article, it will be a measure of our success.
n k singh
broadcast editors' association
Media: An attempt to throw the baby out with the bath tub
Trust the virtue in individuals and collectivities instead of maligning them
Law or control no answer to questions of legitimacy
In his book titled “A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis”, Al Gore, the Nobel Laureate, former US Vice- President and great crusader against environment degradation has written, “Not too many years from now, a new generation will look back at us in this hour of choosing and ask one of two questions. Either they will ask, “What were you thinking? Didn’t you see the entire North Polar ice cap melting before your eyes? Did you not care?” Or they will ask instead, “How did you find the moral courage to rise up and solve a crisis so many said was impossible to solve?”
The critics of the Indian media –and more so of electronic news media—will not have to wait for `too many years’. It is true that till two years ago the news channels were asked three questions not by these critics alone but also by the society. The first was, “What were you thinking when market forces changed the very concept of news? Why were you silent spectator, if not collaborator, in the conscious hijacking of the news? Were you not intellectually and morally strong enough to provide ethically correct and socially purposeful news content?
The editors of news channels were quite concerned about this degeneration in news content. They huddled together to form the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA). It resolved to self-regulate the electronic news channels and its achievements have today made people ask “how did you find the moral courage to rise up and resolve a crisis so many (media –baiters) said was impossible to resolve, and, had therefore prescribed a regulation by Government or para-statal body ?”.
But there is a problem. Having been subjected to nearly a millennium of foreign rule, we have lost the capacity of believing the goodness in ourselves. We do not trust when a body (or an individual) says that it sincerely works for eradication of corruption. We brand him “truck driver”, “stooge of RSS”, a “maverick” or a “fly-by-night political upstart”. We seek to malign such person as income tax defaulter. In this evil-attempt we miss the larger issue of corruption. Similarly, when media unlike other crumbling institutions does start purging itself we launch a tirade and seek to declare instantly “this would not work”. As we do not believe in individual virtue, we scantly believe in collective action generated out of individual virtue. This distrust is not unfounded. In the post-independent India there has hardly emerged an institution which rose to say “we resolve to undertake the self-corrective process sans any control on us”. If any individual did try to change the corroding system he was shouted down, brow-beaten, maligned and finally forced to banish.
This is what the electronic media is being subjected to. This was what Galileo, Jesus Christ and Socrates had had to undergo. Even at that time the perpetrators of violence on them justified themselves. Indian democracy is also being subjected to such elements.
Thus people like Press Council of India Chairman or other votaries of legislation against the electronic media are not wrong but they, having been highly enamored of the majestic aura or being in the lap of state majesty all their life, are disoriented when they advocate a control on media by the state or para-statal body. What exposes their paradoxical personality is that they claim themselves to be democrat but seek more power to shackle a non-formal institution into submission. One can liken them with those pro-democracy Athenians who forced Socrates to drink hemlock and die. They have a tendency to go for selective appropriation of facts and refuse to see the positive landmark achievements that the BEA, in its self-regulatory fervor has registered just within two years of its formation.
That “self –regulation is no regulation” and that “it is oxymoron” only show their limited knowledge of what Gandhi practices all his life and what Gita professed as follows
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन:।। (chapter-6(5)
(Let yourself raise yourself by your ownself, and let not debase yourself as yourself is friend and yourself is foe)
Institutions of public sphere cannot be under state control, barring 8 restrictions?
In a functional democracy, there are three types of institutions—formal; like Parliament, state legislatures, executive or judiciary; informal like public sphere rallies, seminars, other peaceful modes of protest; and non-formal like media which stands by the side of the formal institution yet remains a separate and distinct entity. The second and third fall in public sphere category and are an ineluctable product of freedom of expression. While first one is subject to checks and balances, the other two are freewheeling and limited only by stock doctrine “your freedom ceases where my freedom begins”. All eight restrictions that the Indian Constitution as mentioned under article 19(2) revolve around this basic doctrine and subsequent laws are an off-shoot of these eight restrictions. The Media is also subject to these restrictions and the laws and judicial process.
In this light, if there is any attempt to evolve any extra-legal mechanism to control the media—a non-formal institution of public sphere-, it will not be in consonance with the constitutional scheme of things nor in line with the democratic principles. If the media violates any of the eight restrictions, there is a body of laws against that. If it does not, and if, therefore, the matter revolves around extra-legal domain like ethics, public utility, aspiration of society, it can only be treated as questions of legitimacy.
Questions of legitimacy cannot be resolved through the prism of legality. Besides, in this world, someone had computed, there are 33 million laws to implement 10 commandments or a few slokas of Gita. Still crime did not stop. Law or legal institutions are no solutions to the issues of legitimacy. They can be resolved through the non-state, self –evolved process.
Democracy hinges on four fundamental principles --- Government by discussion, majority rule, recognition of minority rights and Constitutional Government. Freedom of expression is a product of the very first principle ie Government by discussion.
The informal and non-formal institutions cannot be controlled by any State apparatus or state-appointed body howsoever independent they may appear. An attempt is sought to be made to give an impression that electronic media is opposed to any kind of regulation or control. There are eight restricts and scores of laws to carry out those restrictions and electronic media is bound by them. Yet there is a deliberate attempt to denigrate electronic media by saying “they do not want to come under any regulatory framework”.
There is nothing under the Constitutional provisions that allow the State to operate outside the ambits of article 19(2) so far as freedom of Expression is concerned, and there is a plethora of laws under the said provision to enable the state to proceed against the erring channel. Then why and how can the Government take such a decision without the existence of any additional law.
Take another paradoxical situation. Suppose the Ministry officials award punishment to a channel for “Five violations” and refuse renewal of license. Obviously such violation has to be on eight grounds mentioned as restrictions in the article 19(2). Now against such the State agency or agencies will have proceeded against the channel under existing laws ie for example laws pertaining to indecency, defamation, public order etc. But suppose the court absolves it of the same violation, will the Government compensate the channel for the loss; and will the State be able to answer for the abridgement of right to inform and be informed ?
Article 19 (1) (a) does not speak of Press or Media freedom. It mentions ‘Freedom of Expression”. The Press freedom is a logical corollary of freedom of expression. In Article 19 (2) there are eight restrictions to this freedom. They are “the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence”. Under these heads the State has powers to impose reasonable restrictions against this freedom. Again watch the intent of the constitution makers. Clause (g) of the same article mentions “to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation or trade or business”. The restrictions imposed against this right under Article 19(6) categorically empower the State to decide public interest meaning thereby that so far as right to profession is concerned, the state can abridge this right in public interest.
Now a careful study of the difference between two restrictions and corresponding powers given to the State clearly suggests that Constitution-makers were extra-cautious not to give any power to state to decide what is in public interest so far as freedom of expression is concerned.
Under these existing restrictions, the Government made laws which are subject to judicial scrutiny. No government can go beyond the ambits of article 19(2) nor can it decide what is in public interest so far as media content is concerned. That precisely means that so far as violation of eight restrictions mentioned in the Constitution is concerned, there are already laws and well-established judicial process. Anything outside this ambit will be extra-constitutional and void.
Broadcast Editors’ Association
एनके सिंह के पत्र का काटजू द्वारा दिया गया जवाब..
On Mon, 21/11/11
From: Markandey Katju
Subject: Re: Fw:Media control: Throwing the baby out with the bath water
To: N K Singh
Date: Monday, 21 November, 2011, 1:43 PM
Dear Mr. Singh,
I have read you article sent by email.
You have given the impression that I want Government control of the media. Why do you twist my words? I never said that. I want regulation of the media (particularly the electronic media ) by an independent statutory body, not the government. Again and again I requested you to indicate which independent statutory body is the electronic media willing to be regulated by, but it seems you do not want to be regulated by anyone except youselves.If you do not wish to be regulated by the Press Council,are you willing to be regulated by the Lokpal or any other statutory body? You claim self regulation. By the same logic, politicians, bureaucrats,etc can also claim self regulation. Then why should they be brought under the Lokpal?
You have compared yourself with Galileo, Jesus Christ and Socrates. Please tell me : did these people indulge in the scandalous practice of paid news, Radia tapes, etc You claim yourself to be free. Are you really free, or are you really under the control of the corporates who have hired you?
You have stated in your article that "people like the Press Council Chairman having been highly enamoured of the majestic aura of being in the lap of state majesty all their life " are disoriented. Is this the language a gentleman should use? Should you have made a personal attack on me? But perhaps that is all the argument you are left with.
काटजू के जवाब पर एनके सिंह की भड़ास4मीडिया को दी गई प्रतिक्रिया....
from N K Singh
date Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 5:11 PM
subject Fw: Re: Fw:Media control: Throwing the baby out with the bath water
As you wanted to me to react on Justice Katju’s email in which he has asked certain questions here is my response :
I respect Justice Katju. My article answers all his questions. It needs a serious reading of what others say. Pontification has a nasty tendency of condescending to others’ views dismissively.
I may not be using a “gentleman’s” language but in an interview I will never term a section of judges as those with low intelligence level or without any knowledge of economics or philosophy (we have a person of Justice J S Verma's calibre and integrity as head of our regulatory body).
Nor will I gleefully send emails to media persons announcing after the interview “This one is going to be a bombshell for the media (I will not say anything more)”.
However, the BEA has no intention to enter into any polemics with any one much less with Justice Katju. I have explained in my article why in a liberal democracy the issues of informal institutions like public rally or seminar as also the content of the media cannot be regulated beyond the eight restrictions mentioned in article 19(2) because they fall in the domain of legitimacy and not legality.
For example what I said in my article was “The editors of news channels were quite concerned about this degeneration in news content. They huddled together to form the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA). It resolved to self-regulate the electronic news channels”.
I never equated myself with Socrates, Jesus Christ or Galileo. What I said was
“Indian democracy is also being subjected to such elements”.
If drawing salary from a corporate house can be dubbed as "being controlled" what about salary and perks people draw after retirement?
N K Singh