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Self-regulation is no regulation, Katju tells media

November 16, 2011 17:48 IST

Dismissive about the self-regulatory mechanism proposed by the broadcast media, Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Wednesday insisted they must come under some regulatory authority that could be of its choice.

Katju said if TV channels did not want to come under the Press Council they should choose another body like the proposed Lokpal. The former Supreme Court judge however made it clear he was against use of "harsh measures" against the media.

"Powers must be there, either with me, I said I am not so fond of power and you mention which regulatory authority that you want to come under because you don't like the Press Council of India because the current Chairman is a very undesirable and wicked person. You can say under which regulatory body you want to come under like the Lokpal," he said.

He was initiating a panel discussion on 'Media as an Instrument of Public Accountability' on the occasion of National Press Day.

Justice(retd) Katju said if media says they will be self-regulated then the same principle may apply for politicians and bureaucrats too.

"There has to be some regulatory mechanism. You can't say there will be self-regulation, which means nothing. You alone are saints and everyone are sinners? Then what is this paid news, what is (Niira) Radia tapes and what is all these?" he asked.

Strongly criticising the way panel discussions are being conducted on television channels, Katju said they should be held in a "disciplined manner" and that the event would set an example.

He said he was against use of "harsh measures" against media and that he would never support them.

"I have always been against (using) harsh measures against media because media people are intellectuals. They should be persuaded if they go wrong. We should hold discussions with them. That is the way of resolving things in a democracy," the PCI chairman said.

Referring to Hindu Editor-in-Chief N Ram's remarks that "more teeth" should be given to the PCI, Katju said: "This teeth will almost never bite. One has to understand my philosophy. I believe that 90 per cent of the people who commit mistakes can be reformed."

He also narrated a story of a saint asking a cobra not to bite any human beings. "One day the saint saw the cobra being badly wounded, he asked it: Why didn't you bite them? The cobra reminded the saint that he had asked it not to do so. The saint replied, I asked you not to bite them, but why did not you show your fangs."

"Likewise I will show my fangs sometimes but these teeth will almost never bite," the PCI Chairman said.

Justice Katju also narrated another incident to drive home his point why a regulatory mechanism is needed.

"Shishupal (son of Kunti's younger sister) committed 99 mistakes and every time Lord Krishna forgave him. But when he did commit mistake the 100th time his head was chopped off...I am not trying to equate myself with Lord Krishna," he said.

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