There is anger among supporters of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for apologizing to former Punjab Minister and Prakash Singh Badal’s son-in-law Bikram Majithia, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
Kejriwal and AAP have always been the favorite subjects of journalists. Within two days of the opening of the PNB scam of Nirav Modi, the dispute between the Delhi government and the chief secretary started deepening. It is quite possible that it should be coincidental, but it has always been seen that Kejriwal’s issues have been used to cover the activities of the Modi government.
This time the media people are seen more hurt than AAP supporters on the apology. They are reminding Kejriwal of new politics. Actually, I have never seen the media discuss about the education, health or MCD of the Kejriwal government and the powers of the government.
Role Of The Media
But we cannot tell the media what they show. Since ‘what people do not want to tell is the news, everything else is advertisement’. This is the immortal sentence of journalism. Here I have written only to tell that as much as the attitude of the critical media is towards the Delhi government, I wish it would be on the Modi government as well. At least on the issue of sealing, tough questions would be asked on the BJP-Congress-ruled MCD. Well, resentment from the media is a separate issue.
The question is why Kejriwal apologized? Were the allegations leveled?
There are more than two dozen defamation cases against Kejriwal in 16 cities of the country. And these cases are not of hundred or fifty rupees but crores. This means that a lawyer is needed to fight these cases. They want a hefty fee. A lot of time and energy is required.
It does not seem that I am supporting Kejriwal. I am just trying to understand the relationship between one person and the Indian law and order.
Remember, when the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi was raided. Kejriwal accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of confiscating files related to DDCA. On this, Jaitley filed a defamation suit of 10 crore against Kejriwal. Ram Jethmalani became Kejriwal’s lawyer and left the case in between. According to the Times of India, Jethmalani’s total fee was Rs 3.42 crore. He appeared in the court 11 times on behalf of Kejriwal and his hearing fees were 22 lakh rupees. That is, Kejriwal invested about three and a half crores to fight the defamation of ten crores. After this, another senior lawyer Anoop George Chaudhary also dropped the case. Although Kejriwal has not apologized to Arun Jaitley yet, he can probably apologize to him as well.
Many of these dozens of cases are of criminal defamation, in which they may also be jailed. Many cases are registered due to demonstrations against the central government.
According to a report published on March 20 by the English newspaper Indian Express, ten cases will be heard in different courts during the next one month. Most of these have been done by BJP leaders.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said clearly that he and Kejriwal will concentrate on the works of Delhi instead of wasting time in these matters.
They do not have the money and time to fight in these defamation cases. On March 15, due to apologizing to former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia, action was stopped against him or the charges were dropped, it is not so. Punjab’s current minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “There is evidence with the Special Investigation Team (STF) in the drugs trade case against Majithia.” It is clear that the Punjab government should now take this action forward and help the STF. The evidence (according to the minister) came to the STF under the pretext of Kejriwal.
The design of India’s current defamation law is such that a powerful person has always filed a case of defamation of crores of rupees and suppressed opposition against him. The one who is strong and organized with money continues the fight.
In such a situation, the question will also arise whether the allegations made by seeking apology became false?
This question rests on slippery ground. Since Kejriwal is a public figure and is in active politics, these questions are laughable. Consider, what would have happened to a citizen if such a lawsuit had been made against him? Probably the same today as Kejriwal. Because Kejriwal’s case is not to be fought with tax payers’ money.
They will have to give this money from their pocket. This does not mean that the allegations leveled to be false, but that they have freed themselves from the rounds of court-court.
You can also try to understand it in the context of journalism. Recently, on The Wire, Jai Shah has filed a defamation suit of 100 million. Does The Wire have a hundred crores to pay or can they pay Jethmalani-like fees?
The trial of an independently run media institute was done only for the purpose that they should be pacified. Efforts were made to send a message to the rest of the media organizations that they should not touch Jai Shah. In the same way, Ambani’s defamation case against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. There are many examples where there is a compulsion to compromise. You have to give small sacrifices to fight a long battle.
At this time a debate is needed on the current form of defamation law, where the basic freedom to speak and write is under watch. How does one decide whether the social and economic value of his defamation is ten crores or hundred crores?
As long as the law of defamation remains, the law will remain the stench of the feudal hands. Weakness will remain entangled. Silence to hundreds by making one case at a time Will keep trying This method of ‘Shoe the Messenger’ is actually a threat to democracy.