The mischievous game of mis-reporting on national anthem judgement
“As the vilest writer hath his readers, so the greatest liar hath his believers, and it often happens that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work and there is no further occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late.”
One of the greatest writers of all times, Jonathan Swift wrote in his essay “The Art of Political Lying” in 1710. When we look around the lies which float around in what we call main-stream media, we understand the gravity of it. Those on Social media observe the great Gods of public discourse falling into their own ignominy of ingenuity every day. One wonders if they do not, for a second consider that they will be caught. But then when we read this timeless essay, we understand that driven by their selfish designs, they would not care, as the truth comes limping after the lies. We take pride in exposing them, but as Swift says, if it be up unchallenged for an hour, it has served the purpose.
While they are mostly not worried of caught on matters of History, which is so far off in the past, and often times, difficult to be interpreted on current scales of morality, or passing of a hearsay as a news; one wonders how come they have not begun misrepresenting Judicial judgement, which are well-recorded to falsely accuse and attack the Government. They do not do it themselves. Their job is no longer to take anything to logical conclusion (they know there isn’t any). It is to create a doubt and offer a talking point to the political party in the opposition, which once gave them a position of unhindered and unquestioned power. The change in the political scenario turned everything upside down. They fury is the anger of the elites who have just been swept off the power and who, now are forced to live like the lesser mortals. When they mis-report Judiciary, it somehow helps them erode the legitimacy of the elected Government (in whose election, they had no part to play). So they lie far and wide.
We have seen this manipulation of narrative in the case of beef ban. The cow slaughter was banned by Congress in most states, and the same Congress was suddenly an advocate of beef eating, attacking the Government. How many have the time to dig through the History and question the Congress? Those whose job it is to confront and challenge the lies with facts and data are the proponents of lies. They saw huge infrastructure in UP, right before the UP election, and they are the same people who find lack of development in the same state once it is lost to the political ideology that is distasteful to their Leftist minds. There is no such thing as conscience, and whatever little might have been there is overwhelmed by the quest for comfort and convenience. In case of Ram-Rahim Judgement, they again confidently claimed that the court in the judgement hit hard at the Government. The Judge had to come out in a day and disown the statements he was credited with by the media. That gave them couple of days to run the false report and even do Prime-time debates on it.
Then came the debate on National Anthem. If one was to merely look at the media report, co-incidentally the judgement came right after the JNU leftists wanting to break the nation and seek some elusive Independence by Balkanization of our sovereign nation. Very few even paused to notice that the Petitioner, Shri Shyam Narayan Chouksey who was the petitioner had nothing to do with the Government, nor was his independent strife with the authorities to defend the sanctity of the National anthem had anything to do with noisy JNU drama. The man, a retired septuagenarian is from Madhya Pradesh. He had first approached the same Judge, Justice Dipak Misra, then Judge in MP High Court in the year 2001, seeking directions on the National Anthem in Karan Johar movie Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham. He had objected then to the frivolous manner in which the national anthem was presented in the movie and sought directive either to ban the Anthem in the Commercial movie to avoid disrespect, or to pass directive for the audience in the theatre to enforce respect to the anthem.
Justice Misra had then too agreed with him and in a 2003 judgement, had banned the movie from running in any theatre unless the concerned scene was deleted. The order however, was overturned in SC in 2004. Pertinent to note that Mr. Narendra Modi was not a threat then to the Congress Dynasty at the centre and MP was ruled by Congress. However, not to take the defeat silently, Mr. Chauksey approached the Supreme Court with a broader question of Principle. He sought clarity and directive from SC with regards to the national anthem under the “The Prevention of Insults of National Honour Act, 1971” (do note the year). The SC came out with the rulings what it thought was in line with Article 51 A of the Constitution which mentions under Fundamental Duties the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national Anthem.
Along with several points which were there in the Judgment, SC came out with clear rules on playing of National Anthem in the movie halls, and requiring clear enforcement of the respectful behavior towards the National Anthem played thus. As we see, the whole process was between a petitioner and the judiciary which sought Government view regarding the manner in which public rendition of National Anthem ought to be responded to by the common public as per Article 51A, the decision was made. However, the media whined and howled, attacking the Government on this. Neither the founding fathers of the nation who included respect for National symbols in Fundamental duties, now the SC judge would have imagined that this would attract such criticism.
The union Government which was only a respondent and more of a contextualizing enforcer of the wishes of the Judiciary became a punching bag with Sagarika Ghosh and Rajdeep Sardesai of the world enjoying their chance to be a revolutionary without the loss of luxury, merely by claiming “I am an anti-national” in the Television Studio.
Even those who respect the Anthem, not the Left-liberal gang were taken aback by the fact that while it is important to respect the anthem, to push the same in the private space of the citizen and insist respect seemed a bit absurd, to put it mildly. This, notwithstanding the fact that it is only a matter of less than a minute and watching people willfully observer the rule in Theaters was heartwarming in the warring voices of JNU-lefties in TV debates. However, the Interim order lived its life and the matter came in SC once again on 23rd of October, 2017, seeking recall of earlier order of 30th of November, 2016. The media was again back to pretend as if Government was petitioner behind the imposition of this ruling which required Playing National Anthem in movie-theatres and came out with outrageous headlines attributed to the Supreme Court bench.
NDTV went back to its JNU agenda, claiming that the Court Judgement say- “No need for National Anthem at Cinema for Patriotism”. Nothing of this sort is there in the judgement, NDTV is not perturbed. The News Minute writes- “Lashing out at the government for supporting the SC order which made it compulsory to stand up”. Any one reading this would be shocked at the mercurial judiciary we are made to believe, we have. Should the Government not have supported the SC order? Well, as we will see it was just a lie.
Times of India, a leading daily reported with headline- “No moral Policing in the name of patriotism: SC on National Anthem in Cinema Halls”. The term Moral Policing is nowhere in the judgement. There are two points to be considered here. One, as in case of Ram Rahim judgement, the Justice had clarified that there are many off-the-record statements made during the hearing and the Press ought to report on the formal judgement. Two, if the SC bench made the statements which media say they did, it implies that they are saying that even if Judiciary makes a blunder, it is the responsibility of the Government to go against the ill-conceived ideas of Judiciary. In such case, why would this self-assessment of the executive apply in one judgement and not in other, where SC will happily put the government under contempt notice?
The on-record judgement has no reference to the media madness. The Court does not say that these rules should be scrapped. They bench, very rightly acknowledges that making such rules is the prerogative of the executive (to have or to not have the Anthem). It says- “We think it is appropriate that the Central Government should take a call in this regard and if necessary, may bring out requisite notification or circular or rules.” It further adds- “ When we say ‘take a call’, needless to say, the discretion rests with the Central Government.”
Where do you see slamming of the government here? What I see is that Judiciary trying to exit from the area of law-making which is the prerogative of the executive with its honor intact. The court has now steered away from its earlier judgement. In this judgement, it has even asked the Central government not to be influenced by its earlier interim order.
The impunity and enthusiasm with which media reported it as if it was a big loss of face for the Government for some misdoing of theirs, tells us that all this mis-reporting cannot be innocent. Here the court says no such thing in the judgement. Let us as citizen, not take everything printed on the front page of the newspaper at the face value. In a democracy, lies are dangerous. In a democracy, lies clothed as truth is even more dangerous. When media attributes such lies to judiciary, all it is trying to do is to undermine the legitimacy of the elected government. Creating such doubts is the job they seem to have been assigned by someone.
We all know when the citizen loses faith in the Government, in the nation, in the idea of their nation, cracks appear in our being as a society. When such sensitive matters dealing with national honor and our fundamental duties with reference to them are reported in such frivolous manner, we must be very worried for it goes beyond the Government in power, it hits at the very Idea of India.
A technology worker, writer and poet, and a concerned Indian. Saket writes in Hindi and English. He writes on socio-political matters and routinely writes Hindi satire in print as well in leading newspaper like Jagaran. His recently published Hindi satire collection “Ganjhon Ki Goshthi” is on amazon and getting excellent reception and readership.