Thursday 30 May 2024

The Goan touches raw nerves

One is led to believe that the impromptu decision by the CM to inquire into the huge losses suffered by the GIDC and the frauds in the allotment of its plots through the anti-corruption bureau would not have materialised if not for The Goan’s cover story.

Pachu Menon | AUGUST 02, 2012, 11:25 AM IST

Although the notion of the press as a watch dog of societyis centuries old, the idea of a vigilant media monitoring government andexposing its excesses has gained new traction in the past few decades. Thepress is expected to guard the public interest and to protect it fromincompetence, corruption and misinformation. By playing a major role ininforming the public and thereby shaping perceptions, the media serves to providea check on powerful sectors of the society including leaders within the privateand public domains.

The expose on the taxi-operators’ fleecing-rackets thrivingnot only along the tourist belts in the state but also at railway stations andat the airport, and on a host of other issues, paints a very grim picture ofthe cabals and lobbies proliferating under political patronage in thestate.  As has been mentioned by aprominent member of the press, if you can get the government to take actionagainst the corrupt and keep the issue alive with the very first issue of theweekly, then it indeed is an enviable achievement.

One quite often hears of a violation of the rights of aprivileged assembly in the context of sensational revelations pertaining to thosein the government. The term “privilege’ applies to certain rights, powers andimmunities enjoyed by each House of the Parliament or State Legislature andCommittees of each House collectively, and by members of each Houseindividually. It is generally perceived that the legislative privileges is thesafeguarding of the freedom, the authority and the dignity of thelegislature.  

According to whatever little I have garnered, in the strictsense, there is nothing to be called individual member’s rights. Members canenjoy certain rights inherent in the House, that too only to the extent towhich they are discharging the functions of the House.

When ‘offended’ legislators speak of breach of privilege anddemand action against a publication, one tends to believe that the edition hastouched some raw nerves. But why should the MLAs be seen harping on this‘immunity factor’ every time inconsistencies and irregularities in theirfunctionings are reported by the press? Moreover, does distribution of thecopies of a publication in the Assembly premises amount to a breach ofprivilege?

It is time the elected representatives are held accountablefor their various acts of commissions and omissions. Investigations that havegone into innumerable scams and the related legal steps taken to punish theguilty should not go in vain. By virtue of being our ‘emissary’ in theassembly, the legislators are not a class apart – they are answerable to thepublic.

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