File photo of Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
File photo of Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
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The Supreme Court makes it to the headlines Wednesday, for a grand total of three reasons. One is “Complainant seeks copy of report clearing Gogoi” (Hindustan Times).

The Times of India is severe on the complainant” “The sacked woman Supreme Court employee’’ whose sexual harassment complaint against CJI Ranjan Gogoi “was dismissed”. HT, The Hindu, and The Indian Express all refer to her as a “former employee” of the Supreme Court.

All of them carried photographs of the protest in New Delhi, against the clean chit given to Gogoi in the case without any accompanying report.

Newspapers quote parts of the complainant’s letter. TOI’s quote is, “If a copy of the report is being given to the CJI directly or indirectly, I am entitled to a copy thereof in any case. Not providing a copy to the complainant while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice.”

VVPAT

The Supreme Court also makes the lead for turning “down Opposition plea for increased VVPAT verification” (Hindu). Hindustan Times says the apex court “refused to entertain a petition from 21 opposition parties that asked for matching the counts of at least half the electronic voter machines used with the output of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines”.

Note the TOI’s dismissive language: “The bench took less than two minutes to conclude the hearing, snuffing out hopes of the opposition leaders that VVPAT slip counting could be further enhanced”.

The third SC report in HT and TOI is the Centre’s decision to “turn back” two names recommended by the SC collegium for elevation. The Centre returned the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendations “over the issue of seniority, asking the body to reconsider its decision,” reports HT. This story is missing from Express and Hindu Page 1.

Priyanka and PM

In “Priyanka links PM to Duryodhan, Shah says May 23 will reveal Arjun”, Express stitches together comments by Congress general secretary eastern UP, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah at “rallies at opposite ends of the country”, to note that both “invoked the Mahabharat Tuesday in a war of words on the campaign trail”.

While Priyanka likened the PM to Duryodhan and said India “has never forgiven ‘arrogance and pride’”, Shah said 23 May, the day of counting, would be the decider of that.

Meanwhile on the PM’s comments on Rajiv Gandhi, TOI chooses to quote his justification (“I stated a fact about Rajiv. Why is Cong getting upset: Modi”), The Hindu sides with the Congress (“PM’s comment obscene: Cong”).

Press bribes

Express and Telegraph pay heed to a media related issue: “Bribe to press: Leh poll officer for FIR against BJP” (Express).

“A fact-finding inquiry into complaints that J&K BJP leaders handed money in envelopes to media persons in Leh to report in the party’s favour ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh has found prima facie merit in the bribery allegations,” it reports. In “Media bribe plot thickens”, Telegraph says that one of the legislative council members seen handing over the envelops claimed they “contained only invitation cards for a Union minister’s rally”.

Opinion

While market leaders TOI and HT ignore the Supreme Court’s report in the CJI Gogoi sexual harassment case, Express and Hindu take SC’s internal investigation committee to task.

Hindu’s “Prisoner of procedure” says “one of India’s great institutions failed” to live up to standards of fairness it “expects of all authorities”. The “ad hoc committee” found “no substance” in the complainant’s charges, refused to make public its report or share it with the complainant. Nor can it be “reviewed judicially”. Also, it disregarded the procedural issues raised by the complainant, ignored the role of the court’s administration in her dismissal from an SC job and subsequent police action against her and her family. This is an “egregious example” of how the “hallowed institution abused its own power…” concludes Hindu.

Express in “Not justice” says the panel had to answer questions related to the “integrity of the institution itself”. It had the responsibility to mitigate “the unequal power relations” between a former junior employee and the CJI. However, the committee’s report raises more questions than it answers.

The points raised by the complainant reflected “issues of power asymmetry” — that were ignored. Express finds the panel’s recourse to an “ex parte investigation” problematic. The refusal to make the report public lessens transparency — “fundamental in a case of such gravity”. “The Court has corrected itself in the past. It should do so again,” believes Express.

Prime Time

With no major newsbreaks Tuesday, the evening debates made do with what they could muster. Interestingly, few news channels debated the sexual harassment case against CJI Gogoi — not interesting enough for them?

News18: Another Amit Shah interview, this time the BJP president spoke to the channel’s Ajay Devgn. Shah told him that the BJP was comfortably placed in the elections: “We are certain that we will win with full majority…” He claimed BJP would win more seats than in 2014 — it is also contesting more seats. “…it’s a big Modi wave,” he added.

When asked whether BJP’s agenda is only nationalism and not ‘vikas’, Shah replied, “Nationalism and vikas can go hand in hand, both the issues are important.”

Zee News: Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary believes viewers are bored with the elections so he talked of Tipu Sultan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister called Tipu Sultan a great freedom fighter on 4 May, Tipu’s death anniversary. Then, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor asked for his birthday to be celebrated.

“Pakistan and Congress are playing in the same team now,” observed Chaudhary, sarcastically.

Aaj Tak: On ‘Dangal’, anchor Rohit Sardana discussed Modi’s reference to ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi as “corrupt”.

Congress spokesperson Charan Singh Sapra said Modi was running away from the real issues in the elections: “Modi is trying to change the goal post.”

BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi retorted with a rhetorical question : “ (Wasn’t) Rajiv Gandhi the first Prime Minister who faced the allegations of corruption?”

Republic TV: Anchor Arnab Goswami interviewed actor Anupam Kher, a BJP supporter — his wife Kirron Kher is a BJP MP fighting from the Chandigarh constituency. Goswami asked if the removal of Modi was the only “issue” for the Opposition.

“In 2014, the Opposition thought BJP came to power by luck, now they can see the hard-work done by Modi and are afraid by it. Hence, they are ‘coming together to make Narendra Modi fall’.”

Asked about his support to actor Akshay Kumar over the “nationality row” — Kumar is Canadian and did not vote in the elections — Kher replied, “Before questioning Kumar’s nationality one should go and see the movies…. They will understand how much Akshay contributes for the country through his movies.”

NDTV 24×7: Anchor Sreenivasan Jain led a debate, ‘Rising Power, Rising Money’ on election funding and the enormous gap between donations to BJP and Congress. Milan Vaishnav, Carnegie India, said the discrepancy was bad for democracy. Demonetisation and electoral bonds had made “no material difference in transparency” of funding — if at all, “more opacity has been institutionalised”.

On Times Now, “CongSaffronSOS” considered Congress MP Digvijaya Singh holding a ‘yagna’. Anchor Rahul Shivshankar asked Congress supporter Rajiv Desai, how this differed from Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘yagnas’, which the Congress has criticised earlier. Desai claimed Yogi’s represented “Hindutva” while Singh believed in “Hinduism”.

Academic and BJP supporter Madhu Kishwar laughed at this: “Hindutva had been coined by ‘BJP ideologues’ and accepted by the Supreme Court,” she said. “There is no such thing as Hinduism.”

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With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai.

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