Sunday, August 28, 2011

Should Media Be Brought Under Lokpal Scanner?

Jan Lokpal has raised many debates. Some are constitutional while others are ethical and those pertaining to the efficacy of Jan Lokpal itself. One issue that has been sternly opposed by the Indian media is whether media should be brought under the purview of proposed Jan Lokpal law of India?

Some experts have opined that the idea of bringing the media within the ambit of the Lokpal is "bad and mischievous". They have argued that media falls under the category of “private individuals” and the basic objective of the proposed Jan Lokpal law is to target governmental irregularities and corruptions.

Though experts agreed there were problems in the media like paid news, they felt the media would have to deal with the issue itself. They argue that while involvement of a politician in paid news would come under the Election Commission of India norms, in case a newspaper took cash for publishing such news, it would violate the tax laws. The experts mentioned there are quasi-judicial watchdogs like the Press Council of India to look into the complaints against media.

However, demanding that media cannot and should not be brought under the ambit of Jan Lokpal in all circumstances is ignoring the ground realities and the influence making powers of media. If media is involved in corrupt practices, it can validly be brought under the ambit of Jan Lokpal.

There is no reason why media should be excluded from the ambit of Jan Lokpal and there are many factors and reasons that may justify this inclusion. The parliamentary standing committee must consider this aspect as well while formulating the ultimate Jan Lokpal Bill for India.