This article was written for Niti Central. Reposting it here for reference :).
I am no legal luminary, nor am I a wannabe lawyer. I mostly rely on written articles available on the web/newspapers, to understand Court judgements.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India gave its ruling on the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat. The popular site DeshGujarat.com has a detailed timeline of this case. Immediately after the verdict was out, news media was out in full force. The celebrated "Blow to Modi" headline was back!
Let's take a look at the initial report in NDTV. Snapshot below (thanks to tweeple - sharmarohitraj):
To make it easier, I will zoom into the operative portion of this report:
The image might not be clear, because I had to zoom into this a lot. So I will just paste below the text (emphasis mine):
"Mr. Modi challenged the appointment on the grounds that the Governor has not consulted his cabinet. The Supreme Court disagreed. The judges said that the Governor must seek the advice of the cabinet to select the Lokayukta, and this was done. "
Pretty plain english. Easy for any layman to understand. Essentially, according to the report, the SC was saying that the Gujarat government lied to them when they said they had not been consulted. I was wondering why such a simple factual case had to go all the way to the Supreme Court - after all, all correspondence between the Governor and the cabinet will be documented well!
Please note - this report was filed moments after the verdict was given. And told us that the SC said that the cabinet was consulted.
Guess what! NDTV changed their report by the evening.
Let me present to you a zoomed in version of the operative part:
"Mr. Modi has argued that the Governor did not consult his cabinet for the appointment. The Supreme Court appeared to agree with that."
Whoa! In the morning - "The Supreme Court disagreed.". In the evening - "The Supreme Court appeared to agree with that". How is this possible? The only way this is possible is that NDTV was in a tearing hurry to put up an article without checking on the facts! And what does "appeared to agree" even mean? What kind of a language is this?
The Supreme Court judgement can be found here: http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/outtoday/39886.pdf . The staff at NDTV must really be some geniuses, to have read and filed in a report in no time!
It details out the reasons for the delay so far in appointing a Lokayukta. (Just FYI - NDTV merely says "The post has been lying vacant since 2003.")
On pages 55 and 56 of this exhaustive 82 page judgment, all three judges agree (and not "appear to agree") that the Governor has to take the advice of the council of ministers. There are other nuances in the case, which I will leave it for the legal experts to explain to all of us. My understanding is that though the cabinet was not consulted, the CM was in the know of the discussions between the Chief Justice and the Governor, and since majority of the stake holders agree with the appointment of Justice Mehta as the Lokayukta, the Gujarat government's request was not accepted.
The limited point I am trying to make here is the media's overzealousness in reporting anything remotely negative on Mr. Narendra Modi. Most NDTV scrolls refer to "Governor" and "Modi". Why not name the Governor, if you are naming the Chief Minister? This was a case filed by the Gujarat government, not by Mr. Narendra Modi in his personal capacity. So why is the uniformity lacking in the media, while reporting such stuff? That's all, Your Honour :)