Friday, September 13, 2013

Abject Silence of Indian media on Swamy Vs ‘The Hindu’


Abject Silence of Indian media on Swamy Vs 'The Hindu' 

-- on illegal appointment of US citizen as Editor

Indian media is completely on a silent mode about Dr.Subramanian Swamy's case in Delhi High Court, challenging 'The Hindu' newspapers' decision to illegally appoint the US Citizen Siddharth Varadrajan as its Editor. 

No Main Stream Media entity published the Delhi High Court's notice on Wednesday (September 11, 2013) sent to the newspaper and to Siddharth Varadarajan for explaining reasons for continuing illegally as Editor, The Hindu.
So many Supreme Court judgments and High Court judgments for the past few decades have clearly cited that Editor of an Indian publication should be a citizen of India and should be a resident. This means even a NRI can't be appointed as Editor in Indian publications.  But 'The Hindu', the newspaper which always preaches ethics and roars on others' violations of laws, simply ignored all these basic rules and conventions by appointing Siddharth Varadarajan as its Editor. It is nothing but utter disregard of the rule of law.

Left, pseudo Secularists and so called Liberals – as Siddharth Varadarajan positions into this tribe - make a curious claim that there was no mention on the word 'Citizen' in the archaic PRB Act of 1867, which is still in force after six decade of independence. They conveniently ignore that the word – "Citizen" came into existence only after the First World War. These jhollawallahs or big mouths hushes up the fact that so many regulations, rules, guidelines and even several judgments after the independence of India clearly insist that Editor of a publication in India should be a Citizen and must be a resident.

The new PRB Bill, approved by the Standing Committee of Parliament is still pending for introduction and being deliberated in Parliament. This new Bill clearly mandates the provision for Citizenship of the Editor as well as for the Publisher. Why is the UPA Government delaying the passage of the Bill? The simple answer is – nothing but Crony Capitalism. So many people from next generation belong to the newspaper owner families and are studying abroad and many have given up their Indian citizenship and opted for US or UK citizenships. So the current owners' lobby for the delay in passing the new Bill. And the Government sees this opportunity to buy unholy friendship with the media houses.
Some Left, Liberals and pseudo secularists say Siddharth is a fine journalist and Dr.Swamy is having some hidden agenda. If you praise Dr. Swamy for his crusades against corruption and then why not support his fights for undoing illegalities of media houses?  Of course most of the politicians keep silence on illegalities of media. This is simply the politico-media house nexus. 

Siddharth, fine journalist? He was the Deputy and Bureau Chief of 'The Hindu's New Delhi Bureau, when all the mega scams of UPA – 2G Spectrum and Coalgate – took place in 2007-2009 periods. Has this journalist or his New Delhi Bureau written a single word about these day light robberies of those days? When Chennai-based scams happen, 'The Hindu' where DMK controlled trade union rules the roost, glance shifts to Chile, Syria, Bolivia, Burkina Faso.

It is reported that the Registrar of Newspaper, who questioned the appointment of Siddharth Varadrajaran was silenced by none other than powerful Big Mouth Ministers of UPA.  Even one Chhattisgarh DGP, who came out in open was also silenced.  Some in UPA Cabinet advised the US Citizen Editor to apply for Indian Citizenship, when Dr.Swamy opted for filing the case. They promised fast track issue of Indian Citizenship!
Then why is Siddharth Varadarajan not taking Indian Citizenship, even after the assurance of UPA managers? The reason is simple. Is the luxury US Citizenship a matter of pride?

Dr.Swamy filed this petition in early 2013 in Delhi High Court. No media reported, though all have correspondents in Delhi High Court.  Ofcourse – one media critics website 'News Laundry', headed by a veteran journalist Madhu Trehan reported in detail :    

Other noted media critic websites like 'Sans Serif' and 'The Hoot' which usually report on all and sundry affairs of media world also prefer to keep mum on the issue. This was simply due to the so- called Liberal ideological baggage of Krishna Prasad, who runs 'Sans Serif' (The same man: Editor –in- Chief of Outlook Magazine) and Sevanti  Ninan, who runs the 'The Hoot'. (The same person - who led the PR exercise of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in early 2000, when hundreds of farmers were committing suicide). Normally in those days, those who sang on Chandrababu Naidu's development and tech savy image were allotted plots in plush Banjara Hills of Hyderabad.
I don't know if Sevanti Ninan or any of her close relatives also got the same bumper land allotment.  Any way the book -'Plain Speaking' -she Co-Authored with Chandrababu Naidu on governance and reforms in Andhra Pradesh is nothing but a PR leaflet.  I hope she must also laugh loud, if she read this book now.

Allotment of land is always a tool used by governments in both Centre and State to lure the journalists. Now journalists are even accused of land grabbing.  The Hindu's former Editor N Ram is facing land grabbing charges. Luckily, some media reported.  Sometimes good things happen in dark days.  This land grabbing case is about the prime land in the sea shore in Chennai East Coast Road. Incidentally, Finance Minister P Chidambaram's family members are also facing the same allegations of land grabbing in the same plush locality.

As media Houses are hushing up the case in Delhi High Court, for the benefit of readers let me put below the prime points of Dr.Subramanian Swamy's case against 'The Hindu' for illegally appointing a US Citizen as its Editor:


                            In W.P.(C)  2986 of 2013 in Delhi High Court on 21.8.13
1.     The Order passed by the Hon'ble Bench of Delhi High Court on 8.5 13 refers. The matter has arisen because the Editor of The Hindu newspaper is admittedly a foreigner, a US-born citizen [p.47], not a citizen of India.

2.     India's democracy is structured on four pillars: Legislature, Judiciary, Executive and Media. In the first three pillars, the Constitution requires that the members be citizens of India.

3.     For the fourth pillar, the media, whose membership is not prescribed by the Constitution, all statutes enacted by Parliament since Independence require, inter alia, the editor to be a citizen of India.

4.     In the case of TV & Cable visual media, and print newspapers which seek permission to receive foreign direct investment, require citizenship.

5.     Press Council Act which is a statute for constitute an oversight body for the media postulates citizenship for editor.

6.     For the print media which does require FDI, the presently applicable statute, the Press and Registration of Books Act [1867], was enacted in 1867 when there was no lawful concept of citizenship.

7.      Not until after end of World War I in 1919 was there a formal concept of citizenship and a passport issued for travel purposes.

8.     Therefore what is prescribed is the  term "ordinarily resident in India" in Section 1  r/w  the proviso to Section 5(8) of the Press and Registration of Books Act[1867].

9.     This Hon'ble Court has on my Writ Petition in the nature of a PIL framed the issue as: Whether the  term "ordinarily resident in India" in the said Sections of the Act is to be harmoniously constructed to be interpreted and mean that print media editor of the news paper that does not receive FDI has also to be a citizen of India.

10.                        A skeletal Counter Affidavit has been filed by the Respondent UOI which logically is neither here nor there. It evades the issue framed by this Hon'ble Court.

11.                         It fails to mention that the UOI has introduced a Bill No. 24 in Parliament in 2011 [p. 43]to repeal the said 1867 Act and to enact a new statute in which Clause 2 (c ) [ p. 46]  requires Indian citizenship for the print media editor.

12.                        The Standing Committee of Parliament in 2012 has already cleared the Bill for passage recommending  citizenship for the editor as in the Bill.

13.                        This Committee has a representation from all parties in both House.  Standing Committee approval, according to Rule 273 r/w 277 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business framed by Parliament , a Bill cleared by the Committee and reported to Parliament " shall have  persuasive value and shall be treated as considered advice.." [Annexed]

14.                        Submission on the framed issue is, therefore, is that : Applying the principles of statutory interpretation, of purposive and harmonious construction, and/or following the   Doctrine of Casus Omissus, the said term "Ordinarily Resident" must be taken as inclusive of citizenship, for the following reasons:

15.                         First, the Respondent Union Government had introduced Bill to require citizenship,  which having cleared the crucial Standing Committee, is awaiting formal passage by Parliament.

16.                        In the meantime it is against public interest since we are in an election year, therefore to permit any further delay in terminating the appointment of the present foreign citizen as editor of The Hindu.

17.                        The Hon'ble Supreme Court [in (2013) 3 SCC 697 at para 14] has held that news items published in a newspaper "cause far–reaching consequences in an individual and country's life."

18.                        The Hon'ble Apex Court has also held that newspaper editorials have profound effect in national debates and in the formation of opinion of the voter in a parliamentary or any other election [See (2002) 6 SCC 670 para 16, and Indian Express case (1985)1 SCC 641}.

19.                        The editor is solely responsible for deciding what will and will not be published [op.cit., para    ].

20.                        Second, Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(2) of the Constitution will not extend to foreign citizens. An editor to be fearless, must have the secure cover of protection of fundamental rights under the Constitution, in particular the shield of Article 19(1)(a).

21.                        But only Indian citizens are entitled to this protection of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

22.                        Moreover,  foreign citizen editors cannot be expected to be committed to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the Indian State as required under Article 19(2).

23.                         Hence,  the readers/subscribers'  Right  to Information and free expression, which is subject to First Amendment restrictions,  is prejudiced, when the editor,  the sole authority for selecting what will and will not be printed, is not a citizen of India.

24.                        Third, in 1954, the First Press Commission discussed the subject of foreign nationals as owners and of influence in the press [p.272], and viewed it "with disfavor". As a consequence, in 1955, the Union Cabinet passed a Resolution which endorsed this view, and this Resolution holds the field today.

25.                        This is also the meaning of ordinarily resident for a voter in the Representation of Peoples Act 1950.

26.                        The law,  for the these reasons,  has therefore to be read down to mean that "ordinarily resident" means necessarily an Indian citizen, and who is also ordinarily resident of the country. 

1 comment:

Bala said...

When P.Chidambaram was transferred from being the Home Minister to be the Finance Minister a few months ago, Sidharth Varadarajan suggested the name of Digvijay Singh to be appointed as the Home Minister!

It is a matter of sheer luck that his suggestion was not implemented by the PM and/or Sonia then.

A person whose anti hindu sentiments are so well known with his regard for "Osamaji", one can infer the credentials of this man SV!