Karnataka sleaze row: Katju defends media
Markandey Katju said he felt that such proceedings against mediapersons jeopardise the freedom of the media.
New Delhi: Defending journalists who reported the porngate scandal, Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Monday wrote to the Karnataka Assembly Speaker urging him that proceedings initiated against media persons be dropped.
"Some MLAs of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly were filmed watching porn in the Assembly. Instead of commending the mediapersons for their professionalism, proceedings have been started against them," he said.
In his letter to Speaker KG Bopaiah, he requested him to reconsider his decision and withdraw the proceedings against mediapersons, and instead "take strong action against the MLAs who have brought disgrace to the House".
Katju said that he felt that such proceedings against mediapersons jeopardise the freedom of the media guaranteed as a fundamental right by the Constitution of India, and seek to create an impression that it is the media which has brought the House into disrepute rather than the MLAs involved.
He said the Inquiry Committee set up by the Karnataka Assembly in the matter should seek details of this "sordid affair," though from the questions they had asked it seemed they were treating journalists like those accused in an offence.
"In my respectful opinion the inquiry committee can certainly ask mediapersons concerned questions to ascertain correct facts about this sordid affair. But from what I could gather, the question being asked give the impression that the mediapersons are being treated as an accused of some offence, and are being grilled accordingly," Katju noted.
He said as people are the masters and the legislators only their representatives, the public has the right to be informed of the activities of the legislators.
"And the media is an agency of the people to give them this information. Hence I do not see what wrong the media has done by telecasting the watching of porn by the MLAs in the House.
"To my mind the media were only doing their duty to the people of informing them of the shameful manner in which some of their representatives were behaving," Katju said.
He said all proceedings in a Assembly must be freely telecast and reported so that the people, who are the supreme authority in a democracy, know how their representatives are behaving.