Journalists says in the letter, repeated assurances given to the media now seem in vain.

Kerala journos pen an open letter to the Chief Justice asks him for justice
news Kerala Media Tuesday, November 01, 2016 - 15:53

The Regional Committee of the Indian Newspaper Society and Kerala Television Federation has penned an open letter to the Chief Justice of India on the occasion of the state’s 60th birthday –which they point out is that of the Kerala High Court’s as well.

Kerala celebrates its 60th year of formation on Tuesday (01 November). The letter comes in the wake of the continuing ban on journalists from reporting from the premises of courts in the state.

Sir,

We, ‘representing the Regional Committee of Indian Newspaper Society and Kerala Television Federation’ welcome you to our state on the occasion of its 60th birthday.

As you know, the state and its high court share the same birthday on November 1. While welcoming you to Kerala on the occasion of the high court's diamond jubilee celebrations, we are saddened to inform you that the actions of a section of the legal fraternity has seriously affected the excellent relations that existed till recently between the judiciary and the media in the state.

For the last six decades, Kerala has benefited from the timely intervention of many illustrious judges, whose vision and perspective have helped the state evolve into an enlightened society with commendable legal literacy. But a series of sad incidents, stemming from the reportage of a government pleader’s misbehavior with a woman in Kochi, are a blot on this legacy.

You may recall a meeting with our senior representatives in New Delhi. They had also met the President of India to apprise him of the reality regarding the media ban in Kerala. But unfortunately precious little has changed on the ground.

This bleak scenario continues in spite of interventions by the state Governor Justice P Sathasivam, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, various international press associations, senior leaders of all socio-political organizations and prominent citizens. Journalists were hounded out of the Chief Justice's court the very next day after a third communique reassuring the media of hassle-free entry and reporting, signed by the Registrar General, was sent to media offices.

What is more worrying is the sinister manner in which the script is being played out in courtrooms across the state. At the Vanchiyoor court in Thiruvanathapuram, sadly, again in the presence of the judge, journalists, including women journalists, were booed and manhandled and elbowed out of the court room, and media equipment was damaged. Additionally, false cases have been filed against the reporters by the lawyers involved.

The said attack by lawyers was mild, compared to earlier incidents when empty beer bottles stocked on the court premises were hurled at mediapersons. A highly slanderous campaign tarnishing women journalists, including putting up flex boards with their photographs too was unleashed. The situation has come to such a pass that advocates are being threatened not to represent media-houses, when their legal issues come up before various courts.

In effect, apart from denying our constitutional rights granted under the Freedom of Expression, the media as a whole is being denied its right to natural justice to present their side of the story ‘on any issue, for that matter’ before any judicial officer.

The muscle power of a section of lawyers has built a wall between readers and legal news. Watched by an indifferent section of judiciary, this gag-mentality has tarnished the crystal-clear transparency that was once the hallmark of the media-court synergy. It is indeed sad that the very concept of ‘rule of law’ is being challenged by some custodians of the law.

Repeated assurances given to the media now seem in vain, with no access to daily orders and judgments so as to enable real-time coverage. The media room continues to remain closed.

Once again, we greet you on the occasion of the diamond jubilee, hoping that you would be able to resolve the issue, before bidding adieu to the state.

 

 

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