Sunday, September 30, 2007

Vinod Mehta on the Sabharwal affair

After publishing some very hard-hitting stuff from Arundhati Roy in his own magazine, Outlook's editor Vinod Mehta (one of the saner voices in Indian media) goes to Hindustan Times to argue for a 'harmonious relationship' between the judiciary and the media:

As we discuss the Justice Sabharwal affair, we in the media should not lose sight of self-interest. There are not many institutions in our 60-year-old republic which enjoy public confidence. Certainly, the executive and the legislature have sunk to depths in the perception of the aam admi from where it seems impossible to sink any lower. For all their faultlines and fatuities — and they are legion — the media and the judiciary are widely seen as the last bastions in a crumbling state. No amount of self-congratulation and celebration of the wonders of Indian democracy can obscure the rot at its core. If journalists and judges can no longer provide optimism that the crisis can be contained if not conquered, we might as well say bye-bye to creating a nation state which does not annually compete with Burma in the corruption stakes.

I strike a cautionary note not to condone the sensationally silly judgement of the High Court (silly because the “offence”, allegedly undermining the dignity of the courts, which could have been amicably resolved, currently has both sides with swords drawn), but because if the media and the judiciary get into do-or-die hostilities, the only winners will be the politicians. Indeed, over the past couple of weeks all the politicos I have met have urged me to persist and intensify the media’s struggle against the judiciary. ...