Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gulberg Society and Ramlila Maidan episodes A tale of two amicus curiae

Gulberg Society and Ramlila Maidan episodes
A tale of two amicus curiae

It is a reality — a sad one — that even in independent India the media is still not free, still a slave of its own pride, prejudice and arrogance. For it a thing is not as real as it looks in broad daylight, but as it perceives through the prism of its own subjectivity tinged in the façade of liberalism, secularism and, to an extent, permissiveness. The traits of media being free, fearless, objective, free, fair and fearless remain captive of the written words in the textbooks of journalism. These do not find place on the pages of print media and screens of the electronic news channels.  

The latest is the instance of the media hype generated on the opinion of the Supreme Court (SC) appointed amicus curiae, Mr. Raju Ramachandran’s report on the complaint of Mrs. Zakia Jafri, the widow of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among 69 people killed at the Gulberg Society massacre saying "the offences which can be made out against Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences inter alia under Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) of IPC, which means promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion and 153 B (1) which says assertions prejudicial to national integration," Further, he added, Mr. Modi  "should also be prosecuted under IPC 166, which says public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person and 505 (2) meaning statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will," (

On the other hand, the report of the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) after going through all the records, evidence and arguments for and against had decided to close the case against Mr. Modi for lack of proof giving him a clean chit.

The media is generating the impression as if the law, evidence and logic all stand on the side of Mr. Ramachandran’s opinion and the CBI’s closure report is bereft of all these elements.

Before we delve deep into the case, it is first necessary to understand what the term “amicus curiae” means. According to a law dictionary, it is a Latin term for "friend of the court," a party or an organization interested in an issue which files a brief or participates in the argument in a case in which that party or organization is not one of the litigants. As a practice, sometime courts do appoint certain legal eagles to act as amicus curiae for the court in specific cases of public importance.

It is not that the media gives the same amount of credence to every opinion/report of amicus curiae. It is always subjective and selective. It was not that generous to what amicus curiae said in the case of midnight swoop on Baba Ramdev followers at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi in June 2011 as it is to the anti-Modi opinion.

Still more painful is the failure of the media to discern the distinction between the two cases.

 The amicus curiae report in the Ramlila Maidan case had the stamp of SC which had, to a great extent, concurred with it. A SC bench of Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Swantanter Kumar had taken a serious note of the contention by Mr. Rajeev Dhawan, amicus curiae appointed by the SC that the June 4-5, 2011 crackdown was pre-planned by the home ministry to derive political benefits. He had also said that it was upon Chidambaram’s advice that the police intervened.
Mr. Dhawan also said that records, which include Chidambaram’s interviews at the time, show that the crackdown on the camp had been planned by the government well in advance. When the crackdown was staged, the yoga teacher had been in negotiations with senior ministers over how they should recover black money stashed abroad.
According to Mr Dhawan the documents including a press release from home minister P Chidambaram’s office on June 8 said, “A decision was taken that Baba Ramdev would not be allowed to organize any procession or to undertake any fast at the Ramlila Maidan ground. If he persisted in his efforts to do so, he will be directed to remove himself from Delhi.”  
“This suggests that the decision was taken at the home minister’s level, but suspended while talks with Ramdev were on... and when talks failed, the police enforced the decision,” he said while rubbishing the police claim that it had acted of its own. (
In Baba’s case, our media goes by the judgement and ignores the amicus curiae’s views and went on to give the impression as if Baba too had, to an extent, been found guilty by the court for what happened on that June midnight. But in Gulberg Society case the same media ignores the SC-appointed Special Investigating Team conclusion and highlights only the opinion of amicus curiae.
Regrettably, it is again the same media which is sleeping over the denial of justice for the past over 27 years to more than 5000 innocent persons killed in anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s unfortunate assassination — almost double the number of persons killed in 2002 Gujarat riots.
This only betrays media’s double standards and lack of consistency.   ***

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