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Gujarat snooping a violation of personal liberty, says Tharoor

30 November 2013
The Hindu

State’s argument that it was done with the consent of her father could not be believed in this age of communications

Snooping on a young woman by the Gujarat government is the classic example of violation of personal liberty by the organs of a state, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said on Thursday.

He was delivering the keynote address at a seminar organised here by the Jindal Global Law School, the Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training and the Peoples Council for Social Justice, Kochi, to mark the 99th birth day celebrations of V.R. Krishna Iyer.

Mr. Tharoor said the incident showed that something was rotten in Gujarat. The State government argued that it was done with the consent of her father. This excuse could not be believed in this age of communications. The issue was well beyond political considerations, and it raised the fundamental question of privacy and personal liberty. Everyone should make sure that such incident did not happen.

Inaugurating the seminar, the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, Manjula Chellur, said nobody was above the rule of law. The executive and the legislature had to work for achieving the constitutional goals. The judiciary should also address the needs of the common man.

N. Ravi, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, said the media had served democracy well by “keeping the rule of law on course.” He said the media attention on subversion of the institutions of democracy had ensured that the rule of law had never been “diverted from its course.” He pointed out that the criminal defamation law was very harsh and acted as “some kind of deterrent to free functioning of the media.”

He said no regulation could be imposed in journalism as in the case of medicine and law. Anybody with strong views could write in newspapers and there was nobody to test a writer. As for the regulation, he said self-regulation of the media would be the professional standards such as fairness and accuracy in reporting events and carrying the versions of both sides.

Mr. Ravi said ‘paid news’ was “doubly abhorrent.” It was published especially when elections were held. There was need for strict monitoring.

The former Supreme Court judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer, who presided over the event, said every effort should be made to wipe the tear off the face of the poor. Poverty was the main challenge the country faced, and the government should try to eradicate it.