What was behind the Supreme Court of India’s urge and urgency to frame guidelines for media coverage? The thinly veiled insinuations on the Chief Justice made by public interest litigants and dutifully carried by the media?
The veteran journalist, columnist and author Kuldip Nayar givesa couple of conspiracy theories some oxygen, in The Tribune, Chandigarh:
Having observed S.H. Kapadia for nearly his entire term as Chief Justice of India, it became evident to me that the allegations that surfaced after he delivered the judgment in the landmark Vodafone tax case hurt him deeply. A petition wanting to keep Justice Kapadia out of the case made its way to the apex court.
As expected, it was dismissed by another bench, but it left a scar on Justice Kapadia’s mind.
Justice Kapadia is known to be a voracious reader and consumer of the media. The play the petition received in the Press, particularly since it involved his son, Hoshnar, took a toll on him.
Subsequently, another article alleged that since his son-in-law, Jahangir Press, worked for the Tata Group, Justice Kapadia should not hear cases involving the corporate house. He transferred all Tata Group matters to other benches.
The media did not notice this at the time, but the move spoke volumes about how much his reputation meant to him. Justice Kapadia came from a modest background and, once famously said, integrity was the only asset he possessed.
The manner in which the media lapped up allegations against him, perhaps, hurt Justice Kapadia. The 11-13 complaints he received from senior counsels and letters, he said, he got from under-trials, claiming the media had condemned them even before a court convicted them, was probably what made Justice Kapadia constitute the five-judge constitution bench to deal with media excesses.
Read the full article: Media in the CJI’s court
Also read: ‘Darkest hour for media since Emergency?