I am no legal luminary, nor am I a wannabe lawyer. I mostly rely on written articles available on the web/newspapers, to understand court judgements.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India gave its ruling on the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat. The popular site DeshGujarat.com has a detailed timeline of this case. Immediately after the verdict, news media was out in full force. The celebrated ‘Blow to Modi’ headline was back!
Let’s take a look at the initial report on NDTV. Here’s a snapshot (courtesy @ sharmarohitraj):
To make it easier, I will zoom into the operative portion of this report:
The image might not be clear, because I had to zoom into this a lot. So I will just paste below the text (emphasis mine):
“Mr. Modi challenged the appointment on the grounds that the Governor has not consulted his cabinet. The Supreme Court disagreed. The judges said that the Governor must seek the advice of the Cabinet to select the Lokayukta, and this was done. ”
Pretty plain English. Easy for any layman to understand. Essentially, according to the report, the Supreme Court was saying that the Gujarat Government had ‘lied’ when it said it had not been consulted. I was wondering why such a simple factual case had to go all the way to the Supreme Court — after all, all correspondence between the Governor and the Cabinet would have been documented well.
Please note — this report was filed moments after the verdict was given. And told us that the Supreme Court said that the Cabinet had beenconsulted.
Guess what! NDTV changed its report by the evening.
Let me present to you a zoomed-in version of the operative part:
“Mr Modi has argued that the Governor did not consult his Cabinet for the appointment. The Supreme Court appeared to agree with that.”
Whoa! In the morning — “The Supreme Court disagreed.” In the evening — “The Supreme Court appeared to agree with that.” First, what does “appeared to agree” even mean? Second, how is this possible that the Supreme Court disagreed in the morning and “appeared to agree” in the evening? The only way this is possible is that NDTV was in a tearing hurry to put up an article without checking facts!
The Supreme Court judgement can be found here. The staff at NDTV must really be some geniuses to have read all 82 pages and filed a report in no time!
It details out the reasons for the delay so far in appointing a Lokayukta. (NDTV merely says: “The post has been lying vacant since 2003.”)
On pages 55 and 56 of this exhaustive 82-page judgement, all three judges agree (and not “appear to agree”) that the Governor has to take the advice of the Council of Ministers. There are other nuances in the judgement which I shall leave for legal experts to explain to all of us.
The limited point I am trying to make here is the media’s overzealousness in reporting anything remotely negative on Narendra Modi. Most NDTV scrolls referred to ‘Governor’ and ‘Modi’. If you don’t believe me, look at NDTV’s headline — “Supreme Court rules against Narendra Modi on Lokayukta, but slams Governor.”
Why not name the Governor if you are naming the Chief Minister? This was a case filed by the Gujarat Government, not by Narendra Modi in his personal capacity. So why is uniformity lacking in media while reporting such stuff?