Democracy: Report Card of Media and Judiciary, Revving, Screeching but Immobile [Part 4]

By Ashish Kumar:

Indian Judiciary is the safeguard of Fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy which are enshrined in our constitution and by performing this duty Indian Judiciary maintains that justice- social and economical is the soul of Indian democracy. In recent past, there have been numerous instances where Supreme Court has quashed unreasonable, illegitimate judgements, reeking of government’s despotic actions, and has assured that truth and justice prevails.

The recent judgements like Vodafone Case, A Misinterpretation & Uncalled Construction of Section 114 of Evidence Act Vis-À-Vis Live-In-Relationship and Gujarat’s state government plea to quash the appointment of Lokpal by Governor have established India as trade liberal, traditional yet modern and constitution-abiding-justice-loving nation. The tribunals consisting of retired judges from esteemed courts have increased the avenues of settlement of interstate and union-state disputes.
But, not all is hunky-dory with our judiciary.

A pile of unsolved cases, non-functioning lower courts like trial court, district court and session court and purchased judgements in these courts have plagued our judicial systems. Supreme Court’s decision to listen to Public Interest Litigations has only added to the heap of unsolved cases. Sometimes, these PILs have self-interest at their core and waste the precious hours of Court. A time limit to argue the cases is needed to avoid procrastinating simple cases for years. Number of holidays ought to be reduced and better training and remunerations should be provided to lower court personnel so that they have less incentive to cheat and stall the prevalence of justice.

Benefits of IT revolution have yet to reach our courts-the sooner it reaches, the better. Model of speedy trials of criminal cases, popular in Bihar, should be practised nationwide. Empowering local bodies with minor judicial powers to settle petty land or asset disputes would go a long way in adding to time-kitty of our higher courts where issues of public interest can be discussed.

Media is a pivotal constituent of Democracy as it not only serves as a conduit for dissemination of knowledge and information from government to the masses and vice versa but also keeps an accountability-check and vigil over other three components of the governance. Media is the most viable source for expressing views-be it anger, disappointment, resentment or praise by the masses. Media plays overarching role in formation of public opinion and perception about government policies more so when literacy-rate has surged to 74%.

The advent of satellite channels has started an era of commercialisation of news. Disturbingly, many of such channels have started giving prime importance to bizarre, half-true, mob-wooing stories rather than fact-based news and logical-analysis. The era of unadulterated news provided by Doordarshan and Akashwani is gone. Election-commission has unearthed instances of paid-news (false news published in the newspaper endorsing the candidate by bribing the publisher) which sets a bad precedent for dream of fair elections.

Several events of privacy-breach by media-houses have come out. At the same time, the emergence of internet as today’s media and its rising penetration has made it popular hub for news reading and writing. Online-real-time journalism is touted as the future of journalism. Yet, print media has survived the threat and news-aficionados still crave for their copies of The-Hindu and Frontline thanks to impartial and reasonable news-analysis provided by them. The role of media in exposing details of scams like 2G, Antrix-Devas, Mining and Adarsh Housing Society is laudable. Mass-manoeuvring of public opinion towards environmental, tribal and social discrimination issues is worth-praise. Active involvement and evolution of our media supports the claim of our boisterous democracy.

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