Attack on scribes at Patiala House terrible exception: Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday termed the attack on journalists at the Patiala House Courts in the national Capital as a “terrible exception” and decried the presence of crowd on the court premises, which he said creates an “oppressive environment”.
He said courts must remain “detached” and should not be carried by issues or trends of the moment as anything on the contrary would be a threat to free speech and a fair trial.
“It was a terrible exception what happened. Normally, people in public place find media as their natural ally. The whole idea of getting the media dragged into contemporaneous controversy and then attacking it physically is absolutely unacceptable, anywhere, in courts so more particularly,” he said.
Jaitley, who also holds the Information and Broadcasting portfolio, was speaking at the International Press Institute (IPI) India Award For Excellence in Journalism award here.
He stressed that more serious the offence, “stronger” must be the avenues of defence while underlining that “exceptions” like the Patiala House court incident would act as a reminder to keep the media as a detached third party.
“I think the idea of crowds in court is itself not acceptable. The more serious the offence the stronger must be the avenues of defence. And if protests within court premises create an oppressive environment, in which bar associations sometimes pass resolution that we won’t appear for so and so accused. It is not merely a threat to free speech, but it also becomes a threat to a free and fair trial because an oppressive environment is created in judicial institutions,” he said.
The minister added: “Courts must remain detached. Courts can’t be carried by issues of the moment. Courts can’t be carried by the trends itself.”
Calling upon the conventional media to “stand up”, Jaitley said the danger of proliferation of multiple avenues of media was of the “desire” to hog the limelight by doing or saying something “controversial”.
The minister contended that in a robust democracy, the width of the media is so large that almost every viewpoint finds its mention in some place of the media.