Hang if noose fits, UIDAI style!

Rajbir Deswal

THREE days into The Tribune’s Aadhaar expose, I was contemplative and on January 8, when I grabbed my copy in the morning, I burst out laughing — ‘UIDAI files FIR against The Tribune, reporter’! My wife, who was sipping tea, asked if I had gone nuts early on today! ‘Not me, darling, but certainly some nerds have.’

She chipped in, a tad historically, ‘Don’t you remember the blank columns during the Emergency?’ ‘But that was Emergency!’ I ventured, and she retorted, ‘As if it was justified then!’ The argument continued and we switched on to the reaction on social sites about the issue.

I was reminded of a story. There was a king who used to sit in court every six months. He was informed that there were many people who were found indulging in various crimes. ‘They all must hang!’ he ordered. ‘Shall we set the innocent free, Your Majesty?’ asked the presenter. ‘No, they too shall be hanged!’ Having counted the noose, the presenter asked, ‘What do we do with the remaining nooses?’ ‘Put them around the neck of those who fit in them!’ dispensed the king.

There is a Haryanvi anecdote in a similar vein. A thief entered a house, whose doors weren’t closed at night. A man noticed the trespass and caught the thief. Before the panchayat of elders, the thief pleaded not-guilty, saying that the doors weren’t closed and it was an open invitation to anyone to break in. The panchayat ordered that the house-owner, the thief and also the informer should be punished! A poor yokel was impressed and started crying. ‘When you all would be gone, who would dispense justice with such equity!’

Having spent nearly 34 years in the police, I haven’t come across a single FIR that finds culpability, ab initio or prima facie, as against that being inculpatory to the attribution of the accused, for his, or their, acts of omission and commission. Of course, an FIR is just the beginning of investigation, but such a tactic — as the present one — is nothing short of arm-twisting and is detrimental to the freedom of expression in our country.

By the way, is it not time to prosecute those reporters too, who go to terrorist camps, braving all the dangers involved, and objectively report information to be made available to the rest of the world? There have been courageous reporters who ducked themselves in Kargil bunkers, and some who ventured, being thoroughly professional, into natural disasters, like the one that struck Uttarakhand.

Very recently some whispers were heard about the ‘need’ to prosecute a senior television journalist who managed to ‘trace out’ Honeypreet, an associate of dera chief Ram Rahim, when the police and security agencies drew flak. That was a mob in Julius Caesar which killed Cinna, the poet, ‘for his bad verses’ and not Cinna, the conspirator; and now, we have a brainy system to take care of the likes of Cinna — poet and conspirator, both!

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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