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‘Propagate progressive ideas'

Special Correspondent

Media should help people in struggle against social evils: Markandey Katju



MEDIA MATTERS: Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju delivering the keynote address at a seminar on ‘Freedom of the Press and journalistic ethics,' organised by the District Court Bar Association, in Thalassery on Saturday.

THALASSERY: The media should play an important role in waging a cultural struggle to combat feudal and backward ideas, Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju has said.

He was inaugurating a national seminar on ‘Freedom of the press and journalistic ethics' organised by the District Court Bar Association in association with the Barrister M.K. Nambyar Memorial Trust here on Saturday.

The media had the responsibility to fight retrograde ideas and help people in their struggle against poverty and social evils in countries like India, Mr. Katju said.

Observing that the country was in a period of transition, he said reports of ‘honour killings' indicated that the country was still backward. “Our national aim must be to get over this as quickly as possible, reducing the agony which is inevitable during transition,” he said.

Calling for serious discussions on freedom of the press and journalistic ethics in the context of the media becoming very prominent and powerful, Mr. Katju said the ‘responsibility of the media' should be part of such discussions. The freedom of the press had been treated as part of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, while Article 19(2) placed reasonable restrictions on this right for the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, he said. The media was acting for the public by ensuring free flow of information and ideas essential to intelligent self-governance and democracy, Mr. Katju said.

It is essential that the citizens in a democracy should be informed of developments so as to equip them to form rational opinions. The media should avoid subjective reporting and sensationalism. The media should take a balanced view of pending cases to ensure that judges were not influenced, he said.

He flayed the tendency of the media to give undue importance to news involving the glitterati and very little prominence to socio-economic issues. A major chunk of news coverage went to cricket, life of film stars, pop music, fashion parades, he said. High Court Judge Thottathil B. Radhakrishan presided. Journalists T.J.S. George and C. Gouridasan Nair, District Judge Thulasi Bhai and Bar Association president T. Asif Ali were present.

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