June 19, 2010
May 27, 2010
The Honorable Chairperson
KARNATAKA STATE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
4th FLOOR, 5th PHASE, MULTISTOREYED BUILDING, BANGALORE-560 001.
Trial By Media is Violation of Human Rights
About Family Harmony Society®: “Family Harmony Society®” – FHS – http://www.family-harmony.org / http://www.498a.org.in is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) promoting the cause of “family harmony” and “gender equality”. It is registered under “The Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960” and is based in Bangalore.
This is regarding print and electronic media telecasting/publishing lies and half-truths about family disputes between husbands and wives in the name of news, and resorting to defamation of husbands and their family members by calling them criminals, crooks, cheats, frauds, blood-thirsty demons, money-hungry wolves, and similar terms merely based on the self-serving statements of a complainant wife, thus damaging to the dignity of accused persons.
It has become a regular practice for Newspapers and TV News Channels to publish/telecast disputes between wives and husbands and matters which are subjudice or under investigation, in the name of news. Every news story of this nature has certain common elements –
v Portraying the wife as weak, helpless creature having low self-esteem, but flawless in their interactions with the husband and his family members, and as innocent victims of the evil practice of dowry.
v Portraying the husband and his kin as criminal-minded, sadistic persons who constantly harass the young wives for dowry.
v Channels competing with each other to invent new terms to paint the husband and his family members as the worst villains.
v Making assumptions about the guilt of the husband and his family members merely based on allegations of the complainant wife.
v Passing generalized remarks demeaning all men.
v Passing verdicts about the appropriate punishment for the accused husband and his family members.
News Channels have been pitching a wife as a damsel in distress and the husband and his family members as crooks and pitting them against each other for jerking the last drop of tear out of the viewers’ eyes and to arouse unjustified anger against the accused, to keep the viewers glued to their TV sets and boost the TRPs of the respective Channels.
Newspapers and News Channels, through their gut-wrenching commentary, are building unnecessary pressure on the Police and Judiciary, prejudicing the viewers and making the society arrest-hungry.
Such irresponsible reporting of sensational lies and half-truths on disputes between a married couple, in the name of news, causes immeasurable damage to the accused, most of whom are decent, law-abiding citizens, and also have their version of the story which they may or may not want to share with the media. The media, emboldened by the dysfunctional judiciary brazenly resorts to damaging the reputation of the accused knowing well that a person already embroiled in court cases which will take years for disposal, may not take a chance and file a case of damages or defamation.
Conducting trial by media by publishing/telecasting one-sided versions or forcing the husband and his family to face the TV camera under the threat or risk of being discredited, making unsubstantiated allegations and defamatory statements against the accused, giving derogatory titles to the accused, conducting media trial and passing one-sided verdicts, thus discrediting the accused before the case has been heard or concluded in the Court, all amount to violation of the human rights of the accused. In addition, making generalized statements demeaning all men also amounts to blatant violation of the human rights of fifty percent of the country’s population.
The physical and mental health of many accused individuals, especially elders, are affected because of maligning their personal and family reputation and many young men, their sisters and their aged parents have committed suicides unable to withstand the trauma caused by media trial and defamation in addition to prolonged uphill legal battles.
Appeal to KSHRC:
We appeal to the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission to please render justice to victims of media malice by
v Directing all newspapers and news channels to stop publishing/telecasting of family disputes between wife and husband as news.
v Directing all newspapers and news channels to stop making one-sided statements and conducting media trial on an accused husband and his family members.
v Directing all newspapers and news channels to render a public apology for giving horrendous titles to an accused husband and his family members.
v Directing all newspapers and news channels to stop making derogatory statements on men as a group and to render a public apology for the damage already done to the reputation of men as a group.
v Issuing directives such that in case the accused husband or his family members commit suicide unable to bear the trauma of media trial and public humiliation, the respective Newspapers and TV Channels will be required to compensate and pay for the defamation and damages, without the need for the victims of media-trial having to fight another tedious losing legal battle against powerful media houses.
v Issuing directives to stop media Discussions on ANY matter which is subjudice or under investigation, especially those related to family disputes, and the Hon’ble Forum may make provisions to file suo moto cases of contempt of court in case of violation of this directive.
P Suresh, President,
Family Harmony Society