Adjudging Tejpal Guilty is Court's Job, not Media's
By Soli J Sorabjee | Published: 01st December 2013 06:00 AM |
The entire week in the print and electronic media has been predominated by Tarun Tejpal, Shoma Chaudhury and recently by political personalities. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s observation that an unnamed Congress minister holds shares in Tehelka and therefore the Congress is soft on Tehelka was vociferously denied by Kapil Sibal, who construed Swaraj’s remark as referable to him, but admitted that he had donated `5 lakh to Tehelka. The residence of Chaudhury, the CEO of Tehelka, was vandalised by BJP leader Vijay Jolly, which was rightly condemned by the BJP. The Delhi High Court had reserved orders till Friday on Tejpal’s application. Tejpal has withdrawn his application before the Delhi High Court and filed it in the Goa Sessions Court which is hearing the matter since Saturday 10 am and which is continuing at the time of writing. Tejpal’s flip-flops and inconsistent statements do prima facie indicate that he is guilty of rape under the amended law. However, the judgmental attitude of some electronic channels who have prematurely adjudged Tejpal guilty is not right. His guilt or otherwise is to be determined by a court of law. Media must retain a sense of balance and proportion. There were other issues of national concern like the Naxalite retaliation which resulted in death of six CRPF jawans, continued infiltration by breaching the LoC in Kashmir and significant political developments in Pakistan, all these faded into insignificance, thanks to the Tejpal potboiler. The female staffer of Tehelka in her statement has denied any political motivation or conspiracy, but affirmed that her complaint was to vindicate her integrity. She has rightly urged political parties not to jump into the fray, a forlorn hope. We have not heard the last in the Tehelka affair.
Pakistan Supreme Court on Warpath: A bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Justice Jawad S Khwaja and Justice Amir Hani Muslim directed PM Nawaz Sharif to produce 35 ‘missing persons’ before it by Thursday or appear in person to face ‘serious consequences’. The missing persons are believed to be in the custody of the intelligence agencies and are reportedly detained for their alleged connection with terrorist activities. Justice Khwaja observed that the matter involved implementation of Article 9 of the Constitution and the court was under constitutional obligation to maintain supremacy of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Chaudhry is retiring in January on reaching the superannuation age of 65 but apparently wants to leave his judicial imprint before he demits office. His retirement probably will be greeted with a sigh of relief by the Pakistan government.
Sex Strikes: Strikes are not uncommon in our country. There are frequent strikes by lawyers. Strikes by judges are rare. The first judicial strike was by Sir John Peter Grant who locked up the Bombay High Court in protest at the refusal by the authorities to comply with the writ of Habeas Corpus issued by the Court.
Interestingly, there have also been sex strikes. Greek playwright Aristophanes first popularised the idea of women withholding sex in his comedy Lysistrata, in which the women of Greece kick their husbands out of the bedroom in an attempt to end the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta. Recently, the women of Barbacoas in Colombia resolved not to have sex with their husbands till there was a paved road to their remote town and certain basic amenities were provided. Their leader justified the strike and said, “Why bring children into this world when we can’t even offer them the most basic rights?” The Colombian government finally pledged $21 million for a road. Alas, the promise was not kept. The strike by the wives, however, got media attention and generated a lively debate about their demands. In our country, sex strikes whatever be their effectiveness can be a useful tool for population control.
Sorabjee is a former Attorney General of India