Experts reject idea to bring media under Lokpal

New Delhi: The idea of bringing the media within the ambit of the Lokpal is “bad and mischievious”, say experts who argue that the media is “private” and the ombudsman is an institution “for redressal of grievances and to make the government behave”.

“It is a mischievous idea,” said senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha, rejecting Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s idea of “bringing media under Lokpal”.

“If everything will be brought under the Lokpal, what will the judiciary do,” Jha asked.

Though experts agreed there were problems in the media like paid news, they felt the media would have to deal with the issue itself.

Siddhartha Varadarajan, editor, The Hindu, told IANS: “In case the media did something wrong, the law of the land would take care of it.”

He said while involvement of a politician in paid news would come under the Election Commission of India norms, in case a newspaper took cash for publishing such news, it would violate the tax laws.

The experts mentioned there are quasi-judicial watchdogs like the Press Council of India to look into the complaints against media.

“Bringing media under the Lokpal would be like dictatorship,” said Dainik Bhaskar editor Shravan Garg.

“There is no Lokpal like idea in UK, even after the News of The World scandal,” he added.

Garg said the government has allowed 26 percent foreign equity in electronic medium and bringing media within the ambit of the Lokpal would give a wrong message to the world.

However, senior journalist Bhaskar Roy had a different take on the issue. “It is a good idea,” he said.

“If you are probing others, you too should be open to scrutiny. Media’s credentials should be above board.”

The Samajwadi Party chief had demanded in the Lok Sabha Aug 25 that media be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal.

Amid thumping of desks by his colleagues, Yadav had said “a section of the media was taking money and releasing news in favour of a particular party”.

“We suffered at the hands of the media during the polls,” he said.

Yadav went on to say that it had become a practice for the electronic media to collect money during polls and air views in support of one party.

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