India Insight

Moral brigade, media trials and law

In what is being seen as a significant judgement, India’s apex court recently dismissed all charges against south Indian actress Khushboo for her alleged remarks on pre-marital sex in a 2005 magazine interview.

KhushbooThe Supreme Court said her comments were her personal view and that she was entitled to express them.

Many in the country believe the verdict heralds a welcome but a difficult and slow change. Nevertheless, it reinforces our claim to democracy, secularism and above all freedom of speech and expression, of course with its riders.

But an offshoot of the same verdict also highlights prevalence of two active groups in the country which are substantially contributing to its brand and image.

One is media which drives to act as a facilitator of democracy, welcoming the evolution of society and bringing about changes. Other is the moral brigade which claims to be the preservers of rigid cultures and ethos and refuses to embrace any change.

Role of the media in Jessica Lall case

The Supreme Court has upheld the life term for Manu Sharma who was convicted for the 1999 murder of Jessica Lall.

A lawyer holds a book of criminal law as he waits to enter the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

The case became a cause celebre for the media, helping it grab eyeballs in a decade when private news channels mushroomed in the country.

It even inspired a novel by diplomat Vikas Swaroop, the author of the book on which the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” was based.

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