If the Press can’t be trusted…?

I may be wrong in making this observation. But I may say, there is a remarkable distinction between a lawyer and journalist. A lawyer masters the art of separating the relevant from the irrelevant. But, a so-called journalist of the present day tries to make the irrelevant, relevant. In that attempt he embellishes the irrelevant fact with exaggerations, emboldened by the freedom of speech.
The media-men “manage” the news. Manipulate it often. “Freedom of the press” is a term which created an impression that it is a freedom belonging to newspapers. “Of course it is not. It would be as absurd to say that freedom of speech belongs to the man who owns a hall or operates a theater. It is a right that belongs to the people. Some of them exercise this right by writing, speaking or printing. More of them exercise it by reading or listening. The right of one to speak is another’s right to hear; the right of one to write is another’s right to read. The right is not solely concerned with either one or the other aspects of this process, but with both of them. Together the two processes are indispensable to the people’s right to know” (Roll of the press in safeguarding the people’s right to know government business – J. R. Wiggins ).
Newspapers serve its purpose only when the men behind it understand this salutary principle. It is high time for the general public to raise their voice against the press that suppresses the truth. We need quality in news reporting. We should reject the glorified stories of prostitution published under the guise of “breaking news”. Sensational journalism has ruined many innocent individuals, forgetting the fact that “good name is one’s Jewel, one who steals it is not enriched”. But the man who loses it is impoverished. Christopher Jefferies, a victim of media excess said “If the Press can’t be trusted to hold themselves to account, they have no right to pretend they have any role in holding anyone else to account”. Let me conclude this note with the words of Abraham Lincoln:
“Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.”

(My Facebook post, dated 24th  July, 2016)

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First blog post

Whisper of a Lawyer’s Pen..!

May be by accident, I became a lawyer. But, the moment I became a lawyer, I felt some passion for the profession. I had the occasion to see many of  the stalwarts of the profession performing….! Their command of language….their excellent power of analysing legal issues…..the way they influenced the courts, by their erudition….! I often stood spell bound, viewing their spectacular performance.

I was always well aware of my intellecutal  limitations. My awareness about my shortcomings, made me to do mental exercises always. I always tried to think in terms of law. It was not done, just for conducting a case. Legal analysis is a game. May not be a brain teaser! But, it may give you some enjoyment.

Here I venture to write my blogs. These are my expressions, my views! You may have difference of opinion on many of my views. But, you are welcome! Please be a critic of my blogs. I need your criticism.  As Dave Franco, the young American celebrity said : “I am a tough critic on myself.” I also felt always that I am a critic on myself. If you are a critic, it means that you are thinking along with me, may be in your own ways. Please offer your views, comments on the socio-legal issues addressed in my blogs…Please be my critic!

 

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Law, Individual, Society & Happiness

Mohan Kumar

Origin of law, is traceable to the time when men started living as societies. Societies adopted religions and dogmas of faith controlled individuals. When individual freedom was limited for the sake of well being of societies, within the framework of religions, law and legal systems were formed. When societies became nations, laws and legal systems evolved. Nations adopted their own constitutions, proclaiming sovereignty. Many nations dispelled religious dogmas, but a few continued to be dominated by religions. Centuries witnessed conflicts between law and religion. Almost all civilised nations recognised their respective constitution as supreme than religions. Nations with multi-religious societies evolved a term “secularism” for maintaining mutual respect and co-operation between religions.

Where there is excessive domination of religions, unhappiness looms large over that nation. Religions teach humanity is greater than relgion. But, the so called religious leaders or clergies rule that religions are supreme than humanity. Here conflicts arise. Individuals and societies are held for ransom by clergies.

No religion is higher than humanity.”

These are the words of Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Pakistani philanthropist who is a laureate of Gandhi Peace award. These words are golden, and countries which follow fanatic ideologies and dogmas should open up their eyes to understand the meaning of those words.

The United Nations ranked ten countries in world as the Happiest Countries of the World, recently. They are:
1. Finland, 2. Denmark, 3. Norway, 4. Iceland, 5.Netherlands, 6. Switzerland, 7. Sweden, 8. New Zealand, 9. Canada and 10. Australia.

How these countries attain this status?
The answer is simple. Humanity is treated as the religion that governs the societies and individuals in those countries. Freedom of thoughts and expression is available to citizens of these countries, without any restriction. Advantage of science and technology is being made use of by these countries to the fullest extent. Law need not enforce anything on the citizens. These countries succeeded in implementing law as “social engineering”.

Law in the present day world  is conceptualised as “social engineering”. The concept is that Law and legal system should operate for the good of the society. Rights of the citizens are supreme. But when the larger interest of the society is concerned, citizens cannot claim supreme rights. The “happiest countries” set an example for  having implemented the above proposition.

India is one of the largest democracies in the world with a well-written constitution. Many interpretations of the constitutional provisions were adverted to, by our Apex Court, especially on the basic structure of the Constitution. In whatever way the constitutional provisions are interpreted, the salutary objective of rule of law indicated in the preamble of the Constitution, namely justice, Liberty, equality and fraternity guide us as an unerring source of light.

It is all the more important that, we are not to be vigilant of our rights only. We owe a duty to the nation. We owe a duty to the society. But we often forget it. Political parties, religious organisations, individuals all forget it.

Though 71 years are over since we attained independence, we still lack in the spirit of citizenship. Sectarianism rules the day. It is high time for us to get enlightened as to our rights and liabilities as citizens. Let’s try for understanding our rights, duties, responsibilities and limitations, in a clear perspective without being influenced by any ideologies or sectarian dogmas.

Politicians, whatever be their ideologies are all demagogic. They want to categorise citizens based on religion, caste and creed. Even State also indulge in promoting sectarianism, by classifying the people based on religion. Data collection is done by the State based on religion. It is an eye opener to countries like India that in France the data is centrally gathered in a permanent population record and it is illegal to gather data on religion and ethnicity. This salutary feature is even taken note of, by UN report on Happiest Countries of the World.

Let us hope, our country will also find a place among the Happiest Countries of the World, without any delay.
Please read:https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/

ഏപ്രിൽ..!

മോഹൻ കുമാർ

“April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.”

(T. S. Eliot – The Waste Land)

“എപ്രിൽ! നിനക്കറിയില്ല നിൻ ക്രൂരത!

ഈ പാഴ്ത്തൊടിയിലും നീ വന്നു നിൽക്കുന്നു,

തീവെയിൽ മോന്തിക്കുടിക്കുന്നു; പിന്നെ നിൻ

വേവും മനസ്സിന്നറകൾ തുറക്കുന്നു.

നിന്റെയണുക്കളോരോന്നുമെരിഞ്ഞെരി-

ഞ്ഞെന്റെ മുന്നിൽ കണിപ്പൂക്കൊന്നയാകുന്നു.”

(ഒ. എൻ. വി – ഏപ്രിൽ, നീ പാവം)

ഏപ്രിൽ എലിയട്ടിന്റെ കണ്ണിൽ അതിക്രൂരമായ മാസം!

എന്നാൽ ഒ. എൻ. വിയ്ക്ക്‌ ഏപ്രിലിനോട്‌ സഹതാപമാണ്‌.

ഏപ്രിൽ ത്യാഗത്തിന്റെ മാസമാണ്‌. സ്നേഹമെന്നാൽ ത്യാഗം തന്നെയെന്ന തിരിച്ചറിവിന്റെ മാസം.

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter…”

“ഇവിടെയീ വെറും

കല്ലിന്റെ കൂനയിൽ

തിരയുവതെന്തേ

വേരുകൾ നിഷ്ഫലം!

ഇവിടെയേതു ശാഖകൾ

തളിരിടും?

ഇവിടെ സൂര്യൻ

തപിക്കുന്ന ദിക്കിലായ്‌

ശിഥിലരൂപങ്ങൾ

നിറയുന്നു ചുറ്റിലും

മൃതവിമൂകമായ്‌-

ത്തീരുന്നൊരീ മരം

കുളിർതണൽ തരും

എന്നു നീ

പറയുമോ?”

(സ്വതന്ത്ര വിവർത്തനം)

എന്ന് എലിയട്ട്‌ ചൊല്ലുമ്പോൾ

ഒ. എൻ. വിയുടെ സർഗ്ഗഭാവനയിൽ, വേവുന്ന മനസ്സിന്റെ അറകൾ തുറന്ന്, അണുക്കൾ

ഓരോന്നുമെരിഞ്ഞ്‌ അവ കൊന്നപ്പൂക്കളായ്‌ മാറുന്നു.

ഏപ്രിൽ രണ്ട്‌ കവികൾക്കും തപിക്കുന്ന പ്രകൃതിയുടെ വിലാപം തന്നെയാണ്‌.

My memories about the Late Advocate Kunhirama Menon.

Mohan Kumar

Thanks to Mr. Murali Krishnan, for writing an article about the Late Advocate Kunhirama Menon in Bar & Bench. As a lawyer practised in the Courts at Kozhikode, I have my own memories about him.

I was seeing him and witnessing his remarkable performances in various benches of the Sessions Courts in Kozhikode, from 1987 onwards. I stood wonderstruck like the other lawyers seeing his artful cross-examination and delivering of arguments, articulately, exhibiting astuteness and erudition.

In 1997 I was appointed as the District Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor, Kozhikode. The very first day of assuming charge, I had to appear in a case against him. I greeted him before occupying my seat next to him. He wished me success in my new assignment. Before his case was taken up, I had to examine a witness in another case. The witness was a village officer, who issued a certificate. Kunhirama Menon was carefully listening to my way of examining the witness, with a gentle smile. I showed the document to the witness and he identified his seal and signature and thereupon I requested the court to mark the document as an exhibit for prosecution and it was done. The defence lawyer did not cross examine. The witness was about to leave the court hall and I sat back next to him relaxingly. He gently patted on my shoulder and said: “Mr. Prosecutor! You marked the document, but did not prove it”. I was really shocked at his remark, though courteous, but powerful. I realised my folly, when he added: “a document doesn’t prove by itself.” I requested the court to recall the witness, which was readily done. I had to continue my examination putting further questions to the witness as to, based on what materials he issued the certificate and witness deposed that based on revenue records and on his personal inspection he issued the certificate. Menon Sir was all smiles.

I had appeared in two cases against him as the Public Prosecutor, probably I would be the last one. The next year he went to his heavenly abode.

His analytical skills, deep knowledge in criminal law, articulate and forceful arguments, made him a unique trial lawyer. Though courteous in court he was all the more persuasive in his submissions.

I bow my head in profound respect to that great soul. The article of Mr. Murali Krishnan, which draws up a profile of the Late Menon, with cognitive perception certainly would benefit young lawyers to know about the legacy he left behind.

A profile of Advocate Kunhirama Menon, legendary trial lawyer from Kerala who practised law for more than 70 years.
— Read on barandbench.com/kerala-calicut-advocate-kunhirama-menon/

My memories about the Late Advocate Kunhirama Menon.

Thanks to Mr. Murali Krishnan, for writing an article about the Late Advocate Kunhirama Menon in Bar & Bench. As a lawyer practised in the Courts at Kozhikode, I have my own memories about him.

I was seeing him and witnessing his remarkable performances in various benches of the Sessions Courts in Kozhikode, from 1987 onwards. I stood wonderstruck like the other lawyers seeing his artful cross-examination and delivering of arguments, articulately, exhibiting astuteness and erudition.

In 1997 I was appointed as the District Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor, Kozhikode. The very first day of assuming charge, I had to appear in a case against him. I greeted him before occupying my seat next to him. He wished me success in my new assignment. Before his case was taken up, I had to examine a witness in another case. The witness was a village officer, who issued a certificate. Kunhirama Menon was carefully listening to my way of examining the witness, with a gentle smile. I showed the document to the witness and he identified his seal and signature and thereupon I requested the court to mark the document as an exhibit for prosecution and it was done. The defence lawyer did not cross examine. The witness was about to leave the court hall and I sat back next to him relaxingly. He gently patted on my shoulder and said: “Mr. Prosecutor! You marked the document, but did not prove it”. I was really shocked at his remark, though courteous, but powerful. I realised my folly, when he added: “a document doesn’t prove by itself.” I requested the court to recall the witness, which was readily done. I had to continue my examination putting further questions to the witness as to, based on what materials he issued the certificate and witness deposed that based on revenue records and on his personal inspection he issued the certificate. Menon Sir was all smiles.

I had appeared in two cases against him as the Public Prosecutor, probably I would be the last one. The next year he went to his heavenly abode.

His analytical skills, deep knowledge in criminal law, articulate and forceful arguments, made him a unique trial lawyer. Though courteous in court he was all the more persuasive in his submissions.

I bow my head in profound respect to that great soul. The article of Mr. Murali Krishnan, which draws up a profile of the Late Menon, with cognitive perception certainly would benefit young lawyers to know about the legacy he left behind.

https://barandbench.com/kerala-calicut-advocate-kunhirama-menon/

Freedom of Artistic Expression

On 31st May 2013, the U.N. General Assembly approved a report on the right to artistic expression and creation. The most important clauses of the report are :-

“85. All persons enjoy the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity, which includes the right to freely experience and contribute to artistic expressions and creations, through individual or joint practice, to have access to and enjoy the arts, and to disseminate their expressions and creations

86. The effects of art censorship or unjustified restrictions of the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity are devastating. They generate important cultural, social and economic losses, deprive artists of their means of expression and livelihood, create an unsafe environment for all those engaged in the arts and their audiences, sterilize debates on human, social and political issues, hamper the functioning of democracy and most often also impede debates on the legitimacy of censorship itself.”

Now our Apex Court also considered how far freedom of artistic expression shall be recognised by the State. Freedom of artistic expression is nothing but freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Apex Court in the recent judgment in Indibily Creative Pvt. Ltd. v. Govt. of West Bengal, held:-

“the State shall specifically ensure that the properties of the theatre owners who exhibit the film are duly protected as are the viewers against attempts on their safety. As a consequence of the pulling off of the film from the theatres where it was screened on 16 February 2019, the petitioners have suffered a violation of their fundamental right to free speech and expression and of their right to pursue a lawful business. This has been occasioned by the acts of commission and, in any event, of omission on the part of the state in failing to affirm, fulfill and respect the fundamental freedoms of the petitioners. We are clearly of the view that a remedy in public law for the grant of remedial compensation is required in the present case. We order and direct the respondents to pay to the petitioners compensation which we quantify at Rs 20 lakhs within a period of one month from the date of the present judgment. The Writ Petition is allowed in the above terms. The petitioners shall be entitled to the costs of the proceedings quantified at Rs 1 lakh, to be paid over within one month”.

Pre-censorship on expressions of art or literature should be subject to the constitutional principles and the guidelines approved by the U.N. General Council, which classify it as freedom of expression.

https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/sc-wb-govt-film-ban-144203