Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What about the rest?

All throughout the day I watched news channels giving themselves a pat on the back for a job well done and how media has played such an important role (emphasis added) in ensuring justice in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case.

I acknowledge the fact that without constant media pressure and the efforts of support groups which were persistent in demanding justice in this case this would not be possible. The media has definitely played a vital role which is now called a 'landmark verdict'.

I just have one question for the media, what about the rest?

The fact is this story was picked up because it had potential. I do not wish to undermine the seriousness of the issue, but this tragic event made for compelling news. A young promising girl, full of hope and dreams was wronged in the most heinous way by Santosh Singh, a retired IPS officer's son. The perpetrator is now sentenced to death. Would this case have reached its logical conclusion if it was not a high profile case?

What about similar cases which I am sure exist in abundance and have no hope of even brought to trial. If Ramgad ka Ramu committed the same crime would the media still be interested in telling say a Sunita's story. Without the trappings of high profile people being involved there is no drama for the media to thrive on. Nobody cares if an unknown entity, I understand there are many who have been grossly wronged, would ever receive even a semblance of justice in his or her life.

What about the bigger picture. Does the media propose to take up every case in which common people are denied justice and where the aggressors are influential people? Why only Jessica Lal murder case and the Nitish Katara case are brought into focus? What about thousands of cases lying on the bench never to see the light of day.

The answer to this is obvious. Some would argue that it is not the job of the media to ensure fair investigation and speedy justice, we already have agencies to do that. That is exactly my point.

It took 10 years to reach a verdict in a case where the judge had previously ruled that "he had no doubt" the act was committed by Singh but was forced to "acquit him due to lack of evidence". It is an opportunity to take stock of our judicial capabilities in terms of quality and quantity. Also, the investigating officers who compromised the case must be brought to book.

By being jubilant over what I can safely call a minuscule victory, delayed due to judicial lethargy, only because the media chose to emphasize this case would be an insult to those who yearn for their rights. Is justice only for the higher ups or those who are "blessed" enough to get the apparent media midas touch?

No comments: