Act fast, bring out truth, intellectuals tell Kerala govt

Media definitely have the responsibility to observe those holding public office critically.

Thiruvananthapuram: Prominent intellectuals, including T J S George, BRP Bhaskar and T V R Shenoy, have urged the State Government not to let the latest channel atrocity die down through a judicial probe but ensure that the entire gamut of the controversy be exposed.

A TV channel’s telecast of former Transport Minister A K Saseendran’s purported conversation with a woman, using merely the supposed audio of minister’s conversation has led to his resignation.

There is neither a complaint nor a complainant in this, as stated by the Chief Minister. It is not clear whether the voice belongs to the minister. The Chief Minister has also said phone-tapping is an offence. The Chief Minister had accepted the resignation and announced a judicial inquiry. This, like other political controversies, is likely to die down.

But we believe that letting this issue to end in a similar vein is akin to shutting our eyes irresponsibly to issues of journalistic ethics and individual freedom. We demand that this issue be subjected to a rigorous analysis and stringent probe.

By telecasting this news, the channel flings posers on the Malayali’s general psyche traversing dangerous terrains. The channel has ignored adherence to facts and news honesty by ignoring the decency expected during a telecast, watched by children.

The channel does not disclose the identity of the woman the former minister engaged on the phone. There are clues that the conversation has been with mutual consent. If so, what public interest has been there in a conversation supposed to have taken place between two individuals?

Media definitely have the responsibility to observe those holding public office critically. But this socially sanctioned power should not be a despicable intrusion into one’s privacy. Media displaying the psyche of the savage moral police is dangerous to society. It also raises the question how the channel secured this phone talk, if it is true. But if true, there is no complainant as yet. Even security agencies have only limited powers to tap individuals’ conversation.

If genuine, it is a criminal offence and liable for punishment if the conversation has been tapped by anyone other than the complainant. If concocted, it is a serious offence. The probe should bring out all such issues.

This news and questions it poses demand answers, not superficial and dictated by political interests. The duty of media, in times of misuse of power and administrative extremism, is not to play peeping tom or run roughshod over individual rights. The times demand utmost caution and enquiries based on a strong sense of justice. And when such responsibilities fail, it’s not the defeat of the Malayali; it’s of the concept of Indian democracy.

Among the other prominent persons, who issued the statement, are Anand, M Mukundan, Sachithanandan, Sugathakumari, Paul Zacharia, Sashikumar, M K Sanu, M G S Narayanan and K Venu.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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