Are “Protests and Media Trials on Facebook” maligning people’s Reputations?

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

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Are “Protests and Media Trials on Facebook” maligning people’s Reputations?

H.K. Das | August 23, 2018 13:30 hrs


Recent incidents of media and public trial on social media have raised serious concerns about a victim and an accused person’s privacy alike. Not only is an individual’s privacy at stake, his/her reputation is something which is equally susceptible to being tarnished.

 

In a recent incident, a car accident leading to the unfortunate death of one Ganesh Rao in Maligaon caught the public eye when it was revealed that the driver of the vehicle, Abhinash Sharma, is the son of a retired High Court Judge.

 

Keeping that in mind ‘Right of Reputation’ which is an inclusion in the law, an Advocate of the Gauhati High Court throws light on the matter:

 

The following are words by H.K. Das, Advocate, Gauhati High Court (verbatim)

 

Nobody dislikes publicity and media coverage. Basically it is the patent or latent yearning for exposure or to catch attention and appreciation which induces man to come out of the shell of introversion, if any, and show himself off, whether it be a public speech or a poetic flourish. It is this weakness or thirst for publicity which is exploited by the sharper stuff including the media to their advantage both for legitimate or illegitimate ends.

 

Everyone has his own reputation and infringement of the same is a violation of fundamental right of reputation. I was just following a recent protest i.e. “JUSTICE FOR GANESH” led by one Dipankar Chirag Baishya in Facebook wherein a boy was criminalized holding him to be culprit without trial. The photograph of the so called culprit as well as his parents was uploaded in Facebook. Unholy remarks were made against the parents and family. Is this the way we should use our noble right of freedom of speech and expression? I ask myself.

 

Accident is unfortunate and uncertain. Nothing can compensate the loss of life. The guilty will definitely be punished by the Court of law. But in the absence of a trial in the Court of law, any trial on “Reputation” in Facebook is definitely a gross violation of “Fundamental Right of Reputation”. The driver fleeing away and absence of medical examination after the accident does not mean the wrongdoer will get away; other modes of proving a charge are there in law. Even without protest also, there are instances wherein people are getting justice.

 

This new mechanism of trail of ‘Reputation’ in Facebook is creating an unreasonable classification, whereas law provides otherwise i.e. equality.

 

 The recent experience of publicity in Facebook of ‘child lifters’, thereby resulting in mob ‘lynching’ in many parts of the country is still young in memory. The general public instead of avoiding such publicity are in a perpetuating mode. I ask myself “where are we leading?”

 

The Supreme Court of India in the case of R.K. Anand – Vs- Delhi High Court held – “The impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person’s reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt regardless of any verdict in a court of law. During high publicity cases, the media are often accused of provoking an atmosphere of public hysteria akin to a lynch mob which not only makes a fair trial impossible but means that regardless of the result of the trial, in public perception the accused is already held guilty and would not be able to live the rest of their life without intense public scrutiny”.

 

In the unhealthy competition to sensationalise individuals, matters and events, truth and reputation of fellow human beings are the usual causalities. As said by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘Swachhta’ does not mean external cleanliness, it has to be internal also so that every Indian can learn the ramification of their comments in the public forums like Facebook, Whatsapp etc. leading to infringement of ‘Right of Reputation’. Otherwise, a day will come when nobody will be concerned for his/her ‘Reputation’ causing serious social and psychological imbalance. Time has come for citizens of the country to revisit their perception pertaining to ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Comments (4) Post Comment
  • HKD

    Dipankar Chirag Baishya is with Jyotibikash Changmai and 4 others. 18 hrs · G Plus · Thank you Very much Mr H K Das, for pointing out my Name in the Context of 'Right of Reputation' which may also be applicable to my case as i m also a law abiding citizen of this country. My intention was never to malignant someones image, but if i hadn't brought the truth in front of everybody, would the Culprit had ever surrendered in front of the police. Or more importantly would the Culprit had been identified till date, firstly, why did he fleed the scene after committing the crime, why did his family tried to mislead the scenario by registering a Car theft case in Bharalumukh PS through the House Guard, why is his family still trying to protect Abhinash. Mr HK das, just think if it were you instead of Ganesh Rao, Wouldn't your family raise their voice for justice. I did the same to provide Justice to my Friend. I don't want cheap publicity. I don't want publicity at all. Tomorrow it could be me, it could be you or it could be somebody else. Who would face an accident caused by a persons irresponsible driving followed by consumption of heavy amount of alcohol. Mr HK Das, plz join hand with us and support the cause to provide #JUSTICEFOR GANESH. WE WILL BE VERY HAPPY TO HV U WITH US Once again thanks Mr HK Das -------------------------------------------------------JUSTIFICATION/RESPONSE BY HK DAS------------------------------------------------------- At the outset my deep condolences for the soul of your friend and May God give strength to the family to bear such a huge loss. Thanks a lot for appreciating the views of another common man. Our Constitution gives us freedom of speech and expression and so all of us cherish freedom. My writing was just another view in the subject of media trial. Your Justice for Ganesh movement; was just an example in the said writing like the recent incidents of mob lynching and same would have been incomplete without referring your name. Please do not take an offence of it. Now it is my humble request to you not to identify yourself with the writing, it was just another view in the matter. There are many instances which you may not know happening, wherein such face book protests led to serious violation of law and media has played a pivotal role leading tarnishing reputation of individuals which has been condemned by Hon’ble Supreme Court with strong words. My view is against this new mechanism of holding people guilty ‘digitally’ before trial by Court of law. You said you have faith in law and if so is the case, have faith that law will come down heavily against the guilt overlooking all attempts of distortion. I respect your feelings for your friend. But at the same time, I just failed to appreciate how naming of parents, uploading pictures of father in face book would have helped your cause. In my view the Right of Reputation applies to the so called culprit also. Nobody has got the right to tarnish reputation of another without an order from Court of law. As I have seen the sequence of events in your movement. The vehicle was found in the spot, photograph of the driver was taken and the driver fled away which is most common in all the cases. Recently one my close relative succumbed death in an accident wherein the driver fled away and the police personnel got hold of the driver and the owner within 3 days. Had the driver would not have surrendered in your movement; in such an eventuality the police would have followed the law giving him notice U/S 41A Cr.P.C. for appearance failing which arrested the accused. I do not disown the emotion of people and people has right to express their views and emotions. The law is equal for all and there is no requirement of upholding any discrimination by referring to a retired judge which is abridging the right of reputation of the retired judge. At the same time there is no requirement of criminalizing the culprit also in society. Even a hardcore criminal has got the right to life, if not curtailed by any order of Court. It has got serious consequences in future. Sorry to say, I just failed to buy the phenomenon of “online trial” emerging very fast. The police in our State have relentlessly working for maintaining law and order situation and deliver justice. So we do not require “online trial” and “online investigation”. Instances are at galore wherein Ministers and top bureaucrats got arrested in criminal offences before which a retired judge is very minimal. Therefore, even without criminalizing the culprit and tarnishing image of parents, which has been repeatedly condemned by Supreme Court, the family would have got justice. At last my deep sorrow and sympathy with the entire family especially to the small girl. N.B. I will not appreciate any unholy and demeaning personal comments from anybody.

  • Src

    1. "Nobody dislikes publicity and media coverage. Basically it is the patent or latent yearning for exposure or to catch attention and appreciation which induces man to come out of the shell of introversion, if any, and show himself off, whether it be a public speech or a poetic flourish. It is this weakness or thirst for publicity which is exploited by the sharper stuff including the media to their advantage both for legitimate or illegitimate ends." These were your lines followed by mention of "one Dipankar Chirag Baishya". I wish it was not a personal comment made by you assuming that "one Dipankar" had patent and latent yearning of getting public attention and appreciation or thirst of publicity. Like you have the right to opine on a protester, I too have the right to opine on you. It was not a verdict by me, but an option or assumption that you MIGHT EITHER be a total naive OR very cunning, just like you guessed that "One Dipankar" might be gaining publicity to get out of introversion. 2. Neither me nor the protesters ever mentioned that there is no need for court of law as of date or that our statements were vedatim. All our motive was to appeal to the court of law to investigate and give justice. Never we took law in our hands. And all these happened 5 days after the accident when no action was taken, culprit was neither arrested nor even interrogated, neither any police came to victim's house to investigate. How long do you suggest we should wait for police/law people to act? 3. And silently depending on trial by court for justice has shown us what happened in the similar hit and run case by Salman Khan. 4. This was not a case of maligning someone randomly at the heat of the moment just based on assumptions, but was done after having enough evidence on the culprit and obviously here the crime had happened. 5. The culprit and his family and their reputation, you have shown your sympathy and concern for, have already confessed their crime and also accepted the fact that they filed false complaint of their car theft. 6. I am open to your opinion, you too should be pimento the opinion of the protesters and mine too. 7. Good night and sweet dreams.

  • hkd

    Mr. SRC....at the outset thanks for the personal comments that you have made which just established your class and caliber. Now My article was just another point of view emphasizing on trial by court of law instead of general Public and media as well as social Network, wherein i have included the concept of right of reputation. If your lines are accepted in verbatim, then there is no requirement of court as on date. You along with the people can deliver justice. I Never said that guilty should not be punished. If the driver as well his family members did some mischief, then appropriate legal action will definitely follow. But that will not give liberty to anybody to malign or turnish Reputation of any countryman in public. I was shaken after following the incident. It was really unfortunate. I never condemed any protest. To protest is our democratic right. But protest does not mean maligning peoples image in public. Right of reputation, life and libeety is the core of our constitution. Even a convict has right to life if otherwise not curtailed by court of law. Article was a simple viewpoint in the subject of trial by social media. If you say that the article is misguiding then it would mean supreme court also misguided the country in its Verdict which is a contemtuous statement. Apart from that a different thought in media trial Projected in the Article, just citing the unfortunate accident and lynching by mob as an example can Be condemed by pervert like you by making personal comments. This is where the problem lies. U dont want to consume another view. Before garlanding me with the word Cunning, energize Your tiny little brain and get The soul of the Article. Read the article 2/3 times, so that you can understand the core. You are not above law. You can critisize me, but not by using unholy words and making personal comments. One more thing please go and study the law holding the field before pointing the loopholes. Lastly and not the least donot give a different meaning to the Article by adding your personal lines and questions as the article was confined only to right of reputation wherein the unfortunate accident was quoted as an example so that people can appreciate the moral. You can criticize me in any Manner even by making personal comments Because You belong to that breed. But you cannot stop my pen from writing the views which has been affirmed by supreme court Of India. So write Something better which can guide the society to a better direction.

  • Src

    What do you mean by "Even without protest also, there are instances wherein people are getting justice"? What about those millions of instances when the culprit got clean chit and people didn't get justice? What's the harm in peaceful protest? You know there was no investigation done for 4 days, until mass protest happened, and media got involved, no need was paid by the police to this accident? Why false lost car complaint lodged by the family of the accused? What actions against them for maligning the case? And pictures shared on social media weren't just random pics, those were live from the site of accident. There was mass protest only because there was enough evidence and all were very sure who the culprit was, what state he was in and how irresponsibly he drove the car. You must be either very naive or a cunning representative of the culprit's family to come up with this stupid, misguiding article. Instead of blaming the murderer and asking for justice, you are blaming the peaceful protesters. Accidents are unfortunate, but when a car gets totally dismantled as it happened that night, blows away 3 guys on the wrong side, taking one life, paralysing other two, it can't be any other unfortunate accident. It has to be drunk and driving, very irresponsible and crash driving. Actually it should have been an open and shut case, with the culprit being caught and imprisoned, undergone breath test for alcohol right at the spot. Instead it was failure of our law system that allowed the culprit flee away. And shame on you for trying to defend such an irresponsible murderer.