(This is a reprint from NewsBred.)
Try hard as you might Lutyens Media, you won't be able to keep Utsav Bains (in the picture) in the locker in your campaign against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in an alleged sexual-misconduct case.
Before we come to Utsav Bains, let's assume that the uncommon coverage you see in Lutyens Media, especially The Indian Express and The Hindu, about the alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is borne out of disgust and concern for the institution of judiciary in this country.
Let's also assume that these newspapers have reasons to ignore CJI's plea to the media to show "restraint" since they believe the CJI has not followed the natural course of justice in including himself in the three-bench hearing of last Saturday against the allegations.
Indian Express has kind of swarmed around the story in today's edition (April 24, 2019) like a bunch of bees. It's not one but two edit pieces on the matter and the first and second lead on front page are more opinion pieces than factual reporting. Sample this (second lead): "Laxman Singh Negi, a senior assistant with the Rajya Sabha secretariat, said that his request was ignored and the woman was not given an opportunity to defend herself. THAT'S NOT ALL. A key Supreme Court official wasn't even questioned."
"That's not all" hasn't been said by any person involved with this case. This is by the Indian Express reporter. Clearly, the newspaper believes that the CJI is on the wrong. It's not a case of neutral reporting.
If neutral, impartial reporting is the guiding principle of journalism, Lutyens Media has failed the test miserably. I haven't read any report that mulls over CJI's impassioned anguish: "It's a political plot... an attempt to deactivate the CJI office since I am to hear important cases this week." Imagine, CJI is hinting at a conspiracy and our "impartial" media doesn't view it as a matter worth their time. No concern for the institution of judiciary being damaged.
A news report demands adequate representation of both sides. I can understand CJI is being ignored because he is an affected party. But what about lawyer Utsav Bains? His claim that this is a "larger conspiracy to make the CJI resign"? That Bains has filed an affidavit, claimed that he was offered Rs 50 lakhs to organize a press conference for the woman-staffer, and perceived a nexus between "SC fixers, corporate scamsters, a few corrupt politicians"? Doesn't it deserve closer attention?
So we have this curious case where four news web portals clearly seem hand in gloves; a few newspapers are working in unison, whipping up hysteria without giving the other side any opportunity or platform to present their side of the story. Bains' Facebook post on this matter is in public domain for four days but none of our intrepid journalists have bothered to bring it to the notice of their readers. Bains has said that he has evidence on the conspiracy. Yet it is being glossed over. There is no worry if Bains' public stance could virtually finish his legal career at the ripe young age of 32. His Facebook page is indicative of trauma and stress he is presently undergoing for taking the mask off what he believes is a conspiracy. Yet not even a yawn! This, when he is already a celebrity lawyer given high-profile cases such as Bapu Asaram's.
There is little doubt that this hysteria is being stirred up to ensure that CJI Ranjan Gogoi excuses himself from his high seat till the sexual misconduct allegation is settled. This nexus is also banking on the premise that under pressure CJI could resign from his position. Probably, the calculation is, if CJI Ranjan Gogoi goes then the important cases this week among which a contempt notice against Rahul Gandhi and hearing on Rafale is due on April 30 could have a favourable bearing. However, given the combative stance of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, the plotters have caught themselves in a bind. The next few days, one way or the other, could settle the destiny of a few highly-placed individuals. Simply, we can't wait.