Media is not happy with the special court order, which was passed on Wednesday, prohibiting the media from publishing or telecasting any material that may be used as evidence in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and two others for their alleged involvement in 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The order is being seen as a direct interference in how the media works.
Special Judge ML Tahilyani had passed the order in response to an application filed on Wednesday by special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam, who expressed the fear that the evidence published by the media was acting as a deterrent to the evidence in the November 26 terror attack case.
There were mixed reactions from the media to the Court order.
Ashutosh, Managing Editor, IBN 7, said, “We have full respect for the
Court, but I feel the orders they have passed are too late an action
as the news on Kasab has been airing for the past three months. This
order is a direct entrenchment in the working of media. We are
patriots and know how democracy works. Though we do appreciate the
concern, but I think there are too many overreactions. The Government
should try and control the leakage at their end and not find folly in
the working of journalists.”
Agreeing with this, Vinod Kapri, Managing Editor, India TV, said, “I feel the order given by the Court is too late. All the evidences, CCTV footage, CDs – everything have been out already, so why such an order now? Also, I feel such orders are direct interference in the workings of media organisations. We strongly oppose this.”
Another senior journalist on condition of anonymity said, “Such acts of the Government are not acceptable. By doing so they are questioning our integrity. We will take up this matter and might go to the Supreme Court.”
A letter issued by the News Broadcasters Authority (NBA) to all its members on the Court orders said, “Member channels will note that any programme/news report containing the text or details relating to Kasab’s interrogation/ confessions are likely to invite similar action as above, apart from being in violation of the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards & Guidelines issued by the NBA from time to time.”
The letter further stated: “Most importantly, any such programmes/news reports may be prejudicial to national interest; may interfere with the course of justice and may, therefore, also amount to contempt of court. Accordingly, member channels are hereby advised to desist from running any programme/news reports containing the text or details or any other similar material relating to Kasab.”
It may be recalled that keeping in mind the fundamental standards for telecast of Mumbai terror attack-like situation, the NBA on February 10, 2009, had come out with a set of specific guidelines focusing on impartiality, accuracy, fairness and neutrality while covering such incidents.
A part of the guidelines stated: “They should not disclose confidential information of operations involving national security. Broadcasters should also use discretion in reporting on operational methods used by perpetrators of serious offences against the State during the occurrence of the event. Also, live interviews with perpetrators should not be aired.”
Rumours have been doing the rounds that prior to this order, an
official from the Minister of Information and Broadcasting had called
up top 7-8 top news channels and had asked them to stop telecasting
details about Kasab.