Media trials: Subjectivity vs
Submitted to: Ms. Nisha Rani
Amity University Noida Uttar Pradesh
I hereby declare
A. That the work presented for assessment in the report is my own, it has not previously been presented for another assessment and that my debts (for words ,data ,arguments and ideas) have been appropriately acknowledged.
B. That the work conforms to the guidelines for presentation and style set out in the relevant documents.
The successful completion of this project required inputs on several facets. Firstly, I would like to thank and acknowledge, whose continuous support has allowed me to prosper amongst prevailing adversities and discrepancies and execute the undertaken study.
This internship is a resultant product of huge amounts of work and dedication being put forward in order to complete it. Had it not been for the guidance of our institution Adviser, Col. R.K Dargan and Heads of institution this project would never have materialised.
Another important person without whose support I would have never finished this project is my Mentor and Guide, Miss Nisha Rani and I would like to extend my thanks to her. Lastly I would like to thank my family and friends for their endless support.
This project is based on how Media by sensationalizing the news and its constant zeal to be better from their competition conducts trials and helps in the process of justice. It unveils several cases which without the media attention would not have the same outcome. This project thrives to answer one QUESTION: Are Media Trials FAIR or Not?
Media trials: Subjectivity vs objectivity
In a country like India or a country with population like India the crime rate is obviously going to be high but shouldn’t the efforts to curb this crime be higher. That is exactly why we have the judiciary, the judicial system of India conducts trials to give judgement and find the criminals. In our country we have 3 estates but in recent times Media has been named as the 4th estate. In the olden times when the newspapers were started the writers drew the line between giving facts and giving their opinions, they opted for the subjective style of writing by giving only hard fact and figures but as the time is passing style of writing is becoming more objective now the focus has slightly shifted from providing facts and figures to giving their inference and point of view. The new trend in media is media trials, maybe not that recent but still media trials is growing trend. Officially nobody knows whether media has the right to conduct trials only judiciary can pass the judgement and label someone as criminal. According to article 19 (A) the right of freedom of speech is given to every citizen so media persons also have the right to express themselves but by adhering to the ethics .The first and foremost duty of media is to give the public precise information and not imaginary scenarios .Media trials on one hand help to give the public all the necessary specifications of a case .It sometimes helps the police to divulge certain facts that they might have missed or remain unseen these facts may be of importance and can uncover some mystery. But just as every rose has its thorns trials conducted by media also has some downside. According to the constitution every individual is innocent in the eyes of the law until they are proven guilty but in the eyes of media that is not true sometimes media trials give the verdict even before court of law, they label an innocent guilty. After all media people are also human beings and humans make mistakes but some mistakes can have grave consequences.
The one thing that comes to mind after listening to the word “MEDIA” is Does the media sensationalize the news? And twist it for their gain? The opinion of people varies on this subject as people perceive things differently. For instance, when I asked my grandfather his reply was “of course it sensationalises the news after all the main motive of media now is to earn profit. In this world full of greed money is the most important thing you know as they say ‘money speaks’. In olden day’s news was not sensationalized that much truth was the main motive of media its duty was to follow the ethics and inform the people but now truth is nowhere to be found ”
On the other hand, when I asked my uncle his answer was” Media has to sensationalize the news because if it does not then who is going to read it. Most people if not all are content in reading the news with some twists so as to arouse their interest and curiosity.” In my opinion it is ok to do so as long as they still tell the truth and there are no grave consequences. A phrase has gained increasing popularity recently or more appropriately in the 20th century its ‘trial by media’. As it has been stated earlier also that media needs to find information and share that with public but sometimes the influence the media has by coverage of television and newspaper can make or break a person’s reputation by influencing the mass and creating a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before or after the verdict of court.
For a long time, MEDIA has been the voice of thousands no millions of people, hence has gained prominence and has greater impact as the 4th pillar of democracy. Media Trials have certainly had an impact on our judicial system. Previously the courts which used to make delays in judgement have now become fast track. There are so many examples of cases in which Media has played an important role in influencing the judgement like
JESSICA LAL CASE
PRIYADARSHINI MATTO CASE
AARUSHI MURDER CASE
JESSICA LAL CASE
Do you think it would have been possible to attain justice if MEDIA did not intervene?
April 29th 1999 was the unfortunate day on which Manu Sharma son of former Haryana congress leader Vinod Sharma shot JESSICA LAL a 34, year model. The reason you may ask it was just because she refused to serve him liquor.
According to INDIAN EXPRESS “in December 2006 the Delhi High court convicted Manu, Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Singh Gill and acquitted Aloke Khanna, Vikas Gill, Harvinder Singh Chopra, Raja Chopra, Shyam Sunder Sharma and Yograj Singh. The court awarded life imprisonment to Manu sharma and slapped a fine of RS. 50,000 while it awarded 4 years of prison term with fine of RS.3000 each for co- convicts Amar deep Singh Gill and Vikas Yadav. ”
Manu Sharma had appealed twice to the supreme court for this case but his pleas were rejected. If Media did not sensationalize the news as per say and continued to make headlines Jessica would not have been able to get justice. This is not my minds imagination these are the wordings of her sister.
Sabrina Lal, in an interview with Daily News and Analysis stated the following:
“MEDIA GOT US JUSTICE”
‘The media proved to be an extremely powerful force that came to our aid. We are not influential people. We have no great contacts and have no great money either. It was the power of MEDIA that enabled us to get justice. When all doors were shut on our faces, it was the media that came to support us.
The manner in which newspaper and television channels came out in our support was commendable. Had it not been for the media, people would have never known about how a family was being denied justice. It was this coverage that made people realise the truth and come out in protests and demonstrations in support of us.’
Freedom of media is vital for the liberty of people as they should be informed of public affairs. Media plays a significant role in the society. If not for the intervention of media the voice for justice would have been crushed by the more powerful party.
Media has started performing a very active part in investigation of crime and the trial that follows it. It is sensible, some might say, to have media covering the crimes and its investigation as it may achieve greater transparency. However, it not that simple one must not have half- baked information, it is very vital to understand that Media has power and with power comes responsibility. Media has enormous effect on the impressions and opinion. Media is a very powerful tool as seen in case of Jessica Lal but the fact that is still not clear is does media only take up the cases which include rich and famous people, no that’s not the scenario media is the voice of common people and its main motive is to dig up facts and give the information to the public. It is just that the cases involving rich and famous people are more sensationalized, otherwise media wants to cover all the cases which are unique in nature and will arouse the interest of the public. And believe it or not but the crème of the society is always involved in some of the scandal. The question which is in a dire need to be answered is that is Our Judicial System Not Up to date? What is the reason that justice is being delayed? WHY is the voice of the common man not been heard? Let’s take a look at one more case in which without attention of media justice may not have been possible:
PRIYADARSHINI MATTO CASE
Media has now reincarnated itself into a ‘Public Court’ and has started to interfere in the hearing of the cases. Maybe many people must have noticed it but have we ever thought as to WHY Media needs to interfere if law keeping people would do their work properly. As it was clearly seen in Priyadarshini Matto case the police and CBI investigation had many loopholes. According to the
TIMES OF INDIA January “1996 was the unfortunate day that sealed the fate of Priyadarshini Matto as the 25 years old law student of Delhi was raped and murdered. Singh, a law student in Delhi University, was acquitted by the trial court in the case on December 3 1999, but the Delhi High Court had on October 27, 2006 reversed the decision, holding him guilty of rape and murder.
The high court had also awarded death penalty to him in the case. Singh son of a former IPS officer, had challenged his conviction and death sentence awarded by high court. In October 2010, the Supreme court had upheld Singh’s conviction but reduced the death sentence to life imprisonment.”
We can clearly see the condition of judicial system with the facts given above. How can they let a murderer and rapist live by taking back the death penalty when he had forcefully taken the right to live of another human being? If we actually take a closer look then this story is not only about murder and rape but it is about the entire judicial system which crumbled in the face of power, failed the victim and we are not only talking about one but several thousands of victims. Media is a tool to bring about change in the thinking of the society and in this modern era media does not only mean newspapers, radio and television but a major part of media is Internet. The lackadaisical approach of the Delhi police in the investigation of such a sensitive case was brought to the attention of people only by media. Media is a tool which by making the public aware of the intricate details of such cases puts pressure on the judicial system to provide justice. But if the media did not sensationalize the case and used a subjective approach then nobody would have known about the unfortunate way Priyadarshini died. Even after many years of death of Priyadarshini media did not let us forget her in a blog written by Aditya Raj Kaul on 23 of january 2018 he kept her memory alive by saying things like “Priyadarshinin Matto would have been 47 today. She would have perhaps been a top criminal lawyer, rubbing shoulders with high and mighty in Lutyens’ Delhi.” This blog also highlights the facts that even after complaining several times to the police about Santosh’s harassment of Priyadarshini no action was taken just because of his father’s position. This would have never even come to our knowledge if not for the Media. There are many facts which the police or CBI do not reveal to the public so as to save their reputation and hide their faults. But because of media intervention many hidden facts are revealed and justice is being delivered. If not for report in INDIAN EXPRESS, we would not have come to know that Singh was granted parole to give LLM exams and is even married and has a kid.
How is this fair that even after he snatched the dreams of Priyadarshini so brutally he is enjoying life and roaming free in the pretence of giving exams? All this reaches the ears of public only because of media intervention and if this was not being reported then we would never have come to know the lackadaisical approach of our judicial system regarding investigation and providing justice which makes such criminals fearless and carefree of law.
AARUSHI MURDER CASE
But as every ROSE HAS ITs THORN media trials also draw criticism it’s not all smiles and sunshine. The one case in which authenticity of facts provided by media was doubted was Aarushi murder case. Sometimes does the media gets carried away with its conjectures and sensationalism? Yes, sometimes it does after all they are also human beings and are entitled to make mistakes. The first mistake made by media in this case was that they constantly referred to this as the Aarushi murder case. The fact that another man was also killed on the same day is totally forgotten. According to The Hindu “Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found dead with her throat slit in her bedroom in flat no L-32 Jalvayu Vihar in Noida on the morning of May 16, 2008. Hemraj, family’s domestic help is suspected of murder.
Hemraj was found in a pool of blood on the terrace of the flat on May 17. The door of the terrace was found locked from the inside. Noida police says the twin murders were done with surgical precision, insider job suspected. May 19 former domestic help Vishnu Sharma named suspect. Delhi police joins the probe. Police suspects it to be a case of honour killing. Police talks to Aarushi’s friend. Her parents are suspected.
Rajesh Talwar Aarushi’s father arrested for double murders. On June 26 CBI claims it to be a “blind case.” Bail appeal for Rajesh refused by Ghaziabad magistrate. On July 12 Rajesh Talwar gets bail. In 2009 December CBI team files a closure report citing “insufficient evidence”. Servants are given clean chit and Talwars remain the prime suspect. In 2011 trial court rejects CBI’s closure report and summons Aarushi’s parents to face the charge of murder. The couple approaches the Supreme court. In 2012 Supreme court says the bail granted to Rajesh Talwar by the lower court would continue and that he should appear before the Ghaziabad magistrate on February 4 to face trial along with wife Nupur Talwar.
2013 the couple are convicted for the double murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In the year 2017 The Allahabad High court acquits the couple giving them the benefit of doubt.”
In all these events Media was the key player. Television news destroyed the Aarushi – Hemraj case. Media was the culprit behind painting the Talwar couple as the murderer’s over such dubious grounds such as “the conduct displayed by Mr and Mrs Talwar appears a bit too calculated, even cold blooded” as put forth by the author Shobhaa De, who wrote a blog piece titled “Aarushi’s monster parents.” This was the coverage by media can you imagine how melodramatic they made this case by using such words. Media was extremely ruthless, insensitive and lacked decorum with this case. Among the worst culprits were Arnab Goswami editor of times now who ran a campaign to paint the Talwar couple as the murderers. The media even went on a journey of speculations regarding Aarushi’s character. It was portrayed in many tv news channels that Aarushi’s father found her in a compromising position with their domestic help Hemraj and in a fit of rage killed them both. The media was as cruel and indifferent as it is impulsive. It made many assumptions in this case and tried to find reasons for this double murder. They ruthlessly invaded Mrs Talwar’s privacy when they hounded with questions regarding her daughters character and husbands criminal tendencies. They speculated that the murder was done to save the family honour when there are no evidences pointing to the affair between Aarushi and Hemraj. Media made many assumptions lacking evidence and tried to influence the verdict of the court and investigation which is very unethical and can even be considered as contempt of court. The outcome of the case could have been very different if media did not make the case so melodramatic.
After conducting the research on this term paper I can definitely say that Media trials are not completely morally wrong. Of course there are some grim consequences when Media goes overboard with these trials but as long as the media remains in its limits and tell only the facts backed by authentic evidence there is no harm caused. The role of Media in this contemporary world is to make the public aware of the misdoings of the people which harm the general interest. Media is made to keep the people updated not influence the investigation of crimes and the judicial decisions. As we have observed above that if the information is used correctly then media can emerge as a very powerful tool to attain justice but misuse of that power can make the innocent guilty.