Press Council of India

Paradise Papers: BJP MP hauls Indian Express up!

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha MP, Ravindra Kishore Sinha, has sought Privileges Proceedings against top brass of Indian Express, namely, (a) Vivek Goenka, chairman; (b) Rajkamal Jha, chief editor; (c) Ritu Sarin and (d) Shyamlal Yadav on its “motivated attempt to tarnish his reputation” via expose on “Paradise Papers” on November 6, 2017.

In a letter written to Venkaiah Naidu, Chairman, Rajya Sabha, published as an advertisement in newspapers on Wednesday, Sinha has accused Indian Express of “unethical journalism…in the name of freedom of the press.”

Indian Express had alleged that Sinha was “illegally associated with (a) an offshore company, viz SIS Asia Pacific Holding Limited (SAPHL), incorporated in Malta; (b) that his nomination papers of Rajya Sabha election in 2014 didn’t declare his interest in offshore entities.

In his detailed letter/advertisement, Sinha has pointed out

  • Malta has an approved jurisdiction of full Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with India and doesn’t amount to “tax evasion, money laundering or any malafide intent”;
  • His holding company recently underwent “in-depth scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)…covering all regulations, including the Companies Act, Income Tax Act, SCRA, Stamp Act, FIPB, FEMA etc…no deficiency was found in terms of compliance.”
  • Rajya Sabha nomination form requires only “provisions of details of Assets and Liabilities of which I am the owner or direct beneficiary” which is not true in Sinha’s case (see the full advertisement in pic).

Sinha’s anguish stems from a clearly “vested interest” of Indian Express in publishing the report—and a sneering a mocking version of it online—which he termed as “misleading and devoid of facts,” despite Sinha having shared the details with Indian Express !

Over to Sinha:

“These facts were transparently shared with the Indian Express team prior to publication of the news report. Despite that, they have carried the misleading report devoid of facts and indulged in reputation assassination for vested interests.”

“If the Indian Express claims to be the beacon of independent journalism, why are they not targeting other reputed public figures such as Sachin Pilot, P. Chidambaram, Pinarayi Vijayan etc who have all been named in the ICU Paradise Papers?”

“The Indian Express report is unethical journalism in the name of freedom of the press/freedom of speech and is motivated attempt to tarnish my reputation built over decades. It is extremely sad to see the high standards of neutral and independent journalism set by Ramnath Goenka being destroyed under the current editorial leadership.”

In one word: Damning!!!

One doesn’t know if Sinha tried to put this advertisement in Indian Express for it’s not in its today’s edition. Or, if he did and failed in his attempt. Still, the matter is now in public domain and Express would’ve to come up with an explanation.

At least the Privilege Proceedings against Indian Express is being sought for. Whether Editors’ Guild of India reacts to it is a guess as good as yours as mine. Press Council of India, a Central Statutory Authority, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting—Mrs Smriti Irani being at the helm—surely should step in as Fake News in Mainstream Media—Lutyens’ Media—is more rampant than ever.

MSM Fake News Monitor: Express on Akhlaq accused

Not a day passes when Indian Express doesn’t peddle in Fake News. The latest to catch my attention was on Sunday, the slug of which read: “Accused working with NTPC as contract employee.” (see pic).  This is with reference to a juvenile accused in the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in a Dadri village two years ago.

Now who is the accused juvenile? Express doesn’t name him. Now how do they know it? There is another accused juvenile who said so to the newspaper. And what’s the name of this source-accused-juvenile? Express doesn’t name him either.

Maybe the newspaper is following the decent practice of not naming a juvenile till the charges against him is proved. (Never mind though the newspaper went to town in naming five “suspects”—or Sanatan Sanstha–for killing Gauri Lankesh which even the Special Investigating Team (SIT) know nothing about!).

NTPC promptly came up with an official rejoinder within a few hours of the Indian Express story. Pankaj Saxena, spokesperson for NTPC, Dadri, said as for juvenile accused being offered job “…none of them have been employed.”

This Express “rocket” had been launched on a carefully prepared communal ground. Express links the story to the BJP MLA of the constituency, Tejpal Nagar, for recommending a job. Recommending the job to the accused? No, but to the ‘bhabhi” of the accused! And is the “bhabhi” employed by the NTPC? No. Then who the hell is this accused juvenile who is working with the NTPC as contract employee about whom the newspaper has gone to the town? And about whom the BJP MLA is somehow projected as favouring in the background?

After naming BJP MLA Tejpal Nagar as favouring the family of this ghost-of-a-juvenile-accused, the Indian Express states that the NTPC hires locals “through a contractor, in this case an MLA.” A non-suspecting, gullible reader would immediately presume that Tejpal Nagar and this MLA are the same person. But “an MLA” is not “the MLA” and thus the Indian Express cleverly has covered its tracks, without dousing the insinuation.

In a rush to pull the wool over its’ readers eyes, Express doesn’t follow some basic journalistic principles. It makes no effort to explain what is an NTPC in this four-column story. NTPC is an acronym of National Thermal Power Corporation.

Predictably, Indian Express doesn’t carry the official rejoinder of NTPC in its today’s edition. May be it would in days to come or spin a new fantasy. The Fake Train of Indian Express keeps hurtling down its rubbery track at a breakneck speed every day without a care in the world for journalistic ethics or its paying readers or worrying about the censure from the Press Council of India. It remains un-derailed for the laws of this land have its hands full with the stains of a firecracker. Who has the time to be a vigilante on Holy Cows of Lutyens’ Media?

(Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express on Thursday’s edition has been found out in peddling a Fake News).