H.Y. Sharada Prasad stopping subbing the Indian Express and served three Indian Prime Ministers almost without a blemish. William Safire brought much-needed gravitas to Richard Nixon‘s presidency. Alastair Campbell graduated from being a Daily Mirror political editor to a champion “spinster” without a problem.
But what is it about moder-day Indian journalists who find it impossible to take their hand off the till when they land themselves in (or worm themselves into) positions of power?
Five years ago, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu alias Ravi Sidhu, a former Punjab correspondent of The Hindu, left the Punjab Public Service Commission in disgrace after crores of rupees, disproportionate to his known sources of income, were found stashed away. Sidhu had been selling government jobs for a price.
Yesterday, former Punjab media advisor B.I.S. Chahal, was remanded to police remand after he was picked up by the State vigilance bureau. The charge: an annual income of Rs 10 lakh when the Congress government took over had metamorphosed into assets of Rs 15 crore by the end of it.
OK. You are the son of the President of a poor African nation. You are, not surprisingly, the head of the marketing arm of your country’s state-owned oil company. You live it up, as most children of poor Asian and African heads of state do. You party hard, you spend lavishly.
Then, a pesky human rights group comes along and prints details of your private financial dealings on its website, contending that the national oil revenue belongs to the poor people of the poor country. So what do you do? Do you sue for libel? Or, do you sue for invasion of your privacy?
Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, the s/o the President of Congo, took the latter route, and sued Global Witness. Because, if you sue for libel, then you have to establish that what the NGO is saying is wrong, by opening up accounts for scrutiny. But, if you sue for privacy, truth is not a defence.
Seemed like a safe route till a court in the United Kingdom ruled yesterday that the freedom of the press (in this case Global Witness as a publisher) comes over the right to privacy of an individual (in this case the s/o of the president).
Read the full story here: UK court rules for press freedom over privacy rights