New Delhi: Tracing the history of freedom of press, Justice Markandey Katju recalled that noted revolutionists like Voltaire, Ruseau etc fought against the atrocities of feudal system of Europe and upheld the dignity of press.
In India, reformists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy who was also a journalist fought against the evil practices of Sati and supported remarriage of the widows through his newspapers Sambad Kaumudi and Mirat Ul Akhbar. He also recalled noted journalists like Ganesh Shanker and Nikhil Chakravarti who fought courageously against the British. He mentioned that there are also journalists like P. Sainath who highlighted mass suicides of the farmers. Siddarth Vardarajan, Kiran Thaper etc exposed the stalwarts.
He lamented that except a few journalists, most of the media persons have sold out their conscience. Today, media is engaged in diverting the attention of the people from poverty, unemployment, suicides of the farmers, malnutrition etc. Now, media is concentrating on covering the activities of film starts, cricket, fashion show, dirty politics (Ali and Bajrang Bali) etc.
The anchors of today, label the persons as “Tukde Tukde Gang” and urban naxal who do not toe their lines.
During Emergency, media was asked to bend down to a little but these days, they are prostrating completely in front of authorities.
He quoted the unforgettable words of Justice Hugo Blake of US Supreme Court who had said in one of his judgments, “in the first amendment, the founders of the country awarded freedom of press so that it could defend democracy, press is for the ruled not for the rulers”.