The Hindu published an article that could only be construed as a defence for disgraced former Union Minister P. Chidambaram. Titled ‘A case for abjuring custodial interrogation’, the article by G. Mohan Gopal makes an eloquent case against custodial interrogation and argues that it is unconstitutional.
The mention in The Hindu article of court proceedings in the Chidambaram matter and the choice of the featured image for the article is sufficient for us to make reliable speculations about the true intent of the article.
The article argues, “As coercion and voluntariness cannot coexist, it follows that custodial interrogation in Indian prisons necessarily violates the right against self-incrimination and is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.” It states further, “Abjuring custodial interrogation will improve public safety. It will encourage the police to reject self-incrimination as a tool of investigation and improve their ability to find evidence through modern, scientific and humane means. Above all, it will reduce the scope for arbitrary power and strengthen liberty.”
As compelling as the legal basis for the argument may be in the article shielding P Chidambaram in The Hindu, and surely there’s plenty of scope for rebuttal of Gopal’s arguments by other legal luminaries as well, it is hard to ignore the politics and elitism of it all. It is not surprising that the article finds a place in The Hindu. The Chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group (THG), N. Ram, who was its editor-in-chief for a great many years, is close to Chidambaram and their relationship goes way back.
The two of them during their younger days along with Communist leader Prakash Karat started a far-left publication, Radical Review, that advocated for the nationalization of all private assets. Therefore, it isn’t really surprising at all that the article by Gopal argues against custodial interrogation at a time when the law appears to be catching up with Chidambaram. Perhaps, N. Ram’s extremely shoddy journalism during the Rafale saga can be attributed to the relationship that he shares with Chidambaram as well. Emotions do affect the ability to think clearly after all. And now that Chidambaram is in prison, The Hindu appears to be working in its limited capacity to help out its Chairman’s old friend.
The elitism of it all is reflected by the timing of publication of the article. It’s only when one of the elites end up in jail that the elites are suddenly discovering numerous flaws with the laws that he elites themselves created. No one thought anything was wrong with the legal system when Sadhvi Pragya was unjustly imprisoned for years without any evidence to suggest that she committed the heinous crimes she was accused of. No one found any problems with the law when numerous individuals were wrongfully imprisoned to support Chidambaram’s ‘Saffron Terror’ theory.
The legal system appeared to be working just fine when Home Minister Amit Shah was imprisoned for three months in 2010 during Chidambaram’s tenure as Home Minister in a blatantly obvious instance of political vendetta. It’s only now when all the geese that Chidambaram cooked are coming home to roost that the elites are suddenly discovering various flaws with the legal system that their own people created. It really betrays the mentality of these elites.
They create laws and persecute innocent individuals using them. When the same laws are used against one of their own, they suddenly start discovering everything that is wrong with the very laws they created and used for their own benefit. If these laws are so bad, why do these people continue to this day to support the very people who created them in the first place and used them for political benefit? The reason is simple, the elites do not consider laws to be instruments of justice, they believe laws are tools to control people they don’t like.
A great many ordinary people have been interrogated in the past in custody and it’s safe to conclude that numerous other ordinary people are being interrogated in custody right now as we speak. Why doesn’t The Hindu’s heart bleed for such people? If the process is so unjust, then why weren’t they motivated to act by the plight of these ordinary individuals? The answer is simple, they don’t really believe anything is really wrong with custodial interrogation. They are just sad that one of their own is having to go through it. They couldn’t care less if hundreds and thousands of ordinary men and women were interrogated in custody, they just want their own to be left alone. It’s not about virtues, it’s about power.
The elites didn’t have any problem with the ‘Saffron Terror’ theory because they believed it would help the secular-liberal establishment further eliminate its biggest political opposition. They didn’t care about Sadhvi Pragya’s fundamental rights because she was not one of their own. A Sadhvi in saffron garb is the farthest anyone could be from the secular-liberal elite club. They didn’t care about Amit Shah’s rights because he was a political threat to the existing establishment. The elites only care about themselves and they protect their own.
When the laws were created, the elites never imagined that they will one day be used against their own. But the Universe has a strange sense of humour. And Home Minister Amit Shah is the biggest joke that has been played on them. The very legal system that the secular elites used to persecute their political opponents is now being used effectively to bring one of their own to justice.
The whole charade by The Hindu also puts the mask off the face of so-called ‘neutral journalism’ when it comes to players within the ecosystem, like P Chidambaram. It only reveals that vast sections of the media are in bed with the secular-liberal political parties, as their conduct in recent times has revealed. The scene is changing with the passage of time but these relationships between politicians and journalists go way back, like the one between N. Ram and Chidambaram, and old loyalties cannot be broken by electoral defeats.