The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) has written a letter to Bennett, Coleman and Company objecting to two shows broadcast by Times Now channel on May 28. On the said day, the channel aired CCTV footage considered evidence in the rape case in which former Tehelka founder and editor Tarun Tejpal is the accused. Further, the channel had panelists debating what the footage "proved".
Pointing out that the case was sub judice and that the trial proceedings were in camera, NWMI has asserted that the airing of the shows was illegal and insensitive to the survivor. It further questions how the channel could have indulged in such an act, ignoring the legality of it.
The letter reads:
"The Network of Women in Media, India, is appalled at two shows broadcast on Times Now on May 28, 2018 on the Tejpal rape case that were both illegal and unethical. The two shows, that ran consecutively at 8 pm. and 9 pm. respectively, were titled ‘Secrets of a dark night’ on the India Upfront show, anchored by Times Now editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar and ‘Tejpal’s indiscretions caught on CCTV’ on the Newshour debate, anchored by Times Now Managing Editor-Politics Navika Kumar.
Both shows were illegal and violative of Sec 327 (2) and (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which expressly prohibits any coverage of proceedings which are held in camera. The Tejpal case is currently being heard in camera before Additional District and Sessions Court judge Vijaya Pol in Mapusa, Goa. They also clearly constituted a violation of the guidelines laid down in the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards and News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Regulations of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), of which your channel is a member."
The NWMI has also pointed out that though the anchors tried to make it seem like they were on the side of the survivor, what the shows actually attempted to do was to "influence public opinion against the complainant and in favour of the more powerful accused."
Slamming the act as "highly irresponsible, unethical and illegal", NWMI has said that this was a wilful transgression of "legal and ethical boundaries".
Keeping the focus on the survivor, the letter reads: "These grossly unethical and sensationalised shows have caused immense distress to and hurt the dignity of the complainant. It was thoroughly disrespectful of her feelings and emotional condition. In its insensitive broadcast of her experience of criminal assault, it has completely cast aside the basic principles of justice, which are supposed to ensure that victims/complainants of sexual assault get all due support from society in fighting for their rights. Instead of upholding the great tenets of good journalism, which is meant to empower those who fight against injustice done to them, these shows actually sought to help and bolster the perpetrator of a serious crime against women."
Read the full letter here.