Suppressing the Press: Anarchism to Anti-democracy

Kejrival government in Delhi has been going through problematic situations rights since 2014 Delhi assembly elections where it had won 28 seats. After the 49 days of AAP rule, when Kejrival resigned as the CM of Delhi, all political parties and media houses called him Bhagoda (escapist). In the 2015 elections people of Delhi gave AAP an overwhelming victory. Kejrival returned as CM and formed government in Delhi exactly in one year’s time. But, once the government was in place, AAP had to go through a very tuff time. There was a major internal clash in the party. Kejrival was called to be undemocratic and authoritarian in his style of working. Important party leaders like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra yadav got expelled. Party got divided in two groups, one supporting Kejrival while the other supporting Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. At that time, voices were being raised from different sections of the society, calling Kejrival undemocratic. After 2014 elections when Kejrival had resigned from CM office, he was called Bhagoda (escapist) and an anarchist. It was said that APP has no political ideology than Anarchism.

But after the ousting of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and the inhuman treatment given to them, yesterday’s circular again showed APP as an undemocratic party. When its leaders got expelled, it was the question of the internal machinery and functioning of the party organization in an undemocratic manner. But the recent circular issued by APP on 6th May has led to a new controversy. It has clearly showed AAP’s undemocratic agenda and the authoritarian attitude that its leadership carries, may be even taking it to the next level.

The circular issued on 6 May said that any comments made against any government officials including the chief minister, other ministers and different secretaries in media to be reported immediately. It as to be reported to the main secretary. After the legal consideration on the complaint, a case can be filed under IPC section 499 and 500, dealing with charges of defamation.

This announcement made by Kejrival government is a very unfortunate attempt aiming at suppressing the press. It clearly shows that AAP government is not respecting the freedoms given to the citizens by the Indian democracy. Such circular is clearly an ill-will executive move which will result an undemocratic atmosphere in Delhi.

It is also interesting to note here that Kejrival who wants to charge media of defamation charges, he himself was against the sections 499 and 500 of IPC till few days back. Kejrival had said that defamation should only be a civil crime, hence demanding decriminalization of section 499 and 500 of IPC. Ironically, there are cases of defamation against Kejrival also, one of them being against union minister Nitin Gadkari. On background of all this, the circular puts a serious question mark on what authority does Kejrival administration enjoys to issue an order against alleged defamation when Kejrival himself is facing defamation charges.

It clearly shows the ill-intentions of Delhi government to repress the fourth pillar of the government (media) in any democratic system after judiciary, legislature and the executive. The circular issued aims at taking away the democratic right to criticize the government guaranteed in the Indian constitution. It also represses the right to question the authority and to reason the legitimacy of its rule. Kejrival Ji did not understand while taking on the media that truthful comments do not come under the purview of defamation. If he means that providing people of Delhi with information about Delhi administration, providing people with factual data, its schemes and misappropriations in the execution of those schemes, giving information about the departmental work and releasing all the public-oriented info amounts to defamation, then I guess it’s time to tell Kejrival that boss, sorry, please leave. We are not living in the time where people just accepted king’s rule because it was considered to be divine. We are not even living under any autocratic regime that people will not be allowed to open their mouth about the ruler’s performance. WE are living in a democratic system that guaranties right to free speech and expression. Today media has come to play very crucial role. A vigilant journalist is as important as a soldier fighting on the border. Media as the fourth pillar of administration has to have some freedom and immunities to work effectively. Therefore APP’s agenda to clutch the wings of journalists under the pretext of freedom from defamation is very unfortunate and can’t be justified on any ground. My message to Kejrival Ji: “If you are so afraid of getting defamed, well, rather than shutting other people’s mouth, work towards good-governance so that there will be nothing to defame you”.