Investigative journalism is disappearing from India and there have hardly been any big exposes by the media in recent years, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said on Wednesday, ABN Telugu reported.
At the launch of a book by journalist Sudhakar Reddy Udumula, the chief justice said that when he was growing up, he eagerly looked forward to newspaper reports exposing big scandals. “The newspapers never disappointed us,” he said.
Ramana added that he started off as a journalist and wanted to share his thoughts about the media.
The chief justice said: “The concept of investigative journalism is, unfortunately, vanishing from the media canvas. It is true at least in the Indian context”.
Ramana added that in the past, newspapers used to report on “scandals and misconduct”. Their reportage, he said, would lead to serious consequences.
“Barring one or two, I don’t recall any story of such magnitude in the recent years,” the chief justice said at the event. He added that “everything in our garden appears to be rosy”.
Ramana quoted Mahatma Gandhi while speaking at the book launch. “The newspapers should be read for the study of facts,” he said. “They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking.”
The chief justice said he hoped the media tests itself against Gandhi’s words.
Ramana’s remarks come at a time of crackdown on the freedom of press in India. There have been numerous cases where journalist and activists have been arrested by the police or raided by government agencies.
In one such instance, Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, was arrested in October last year while on his way to the site of an alleged gangrape and murder of a young Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district.
The police alleged that Kappan was going to Hathras as part of a conspiracy to create law and order trouble and foment caste riots. The journalist was charged with sedition and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He has been in jail since then.
In another case, two journalists reporting on the communal violence in Tripura were arrested by the police in November. They were accused of being part of a conspiracy to malign the government and spread communal disharmony. Later, they were granted bail.
In April, media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières said India was one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. India ranked 142 out of 180 countries on the watchdog’s World Press Freedom Index.