No trial by media
The recent attempts by a band of reputed editors to actually see and scrutinise the CCTV footage that is evidence in the Tarun Tejpal alleged rape and sexual assault case, thereby try paint a more favourable picture of the Tehelka editor, reeks of double standards. Not only is this against the law, it is equally unfair to the young woman journalist, whose identity has now been all but revealed in the public sphere. The CCTV footage, a circumstantial evidence, has been downloaded and circulated, much like the emails that did the rounds when the news had broken. But there is a big difference between circulating a letter with names strategically withheld, and publicising the video footage which clearly shows the victim’s face. Not only is this violative of the law, but it amounts to furthering of abuse since the crux of the arguments trying to exonerate Tejpal before the law can its own course. Moreover, this amounts to unduly turn the tides against the victim, who is now likely to be paraded as a sexually available ‘loose woman’ whose body was up for grabs. for the editor’s vicarious pleasure. It seems the close circuit that is the Capital’s guild of top bosses in the media, both print and electronic, is trying to save one of its own, instead of standing up for the rights of women in the profession. Lawyers and activists have rightly pointed out that lurid circulation and passing of moral judgements in hushed tones in the choppy waters of social media already assumes guilt on the woman’s part, and rediscovers Tejpal’s supposed innocence. His writerly brilliance and entrepreneurial skills notwithstanding, today he stands as a rape accused and must undergo trial as per the law and not be propped up by the over-entitled editors’ guild as their posterboy. The circulation of the video footage has already done enough disservice to the case and the court must not allow the social media to colour it blind.