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Sex tape saga

Busted! The Singhvi

INDEX The Dirty Details


Busted: Singhvi sex video goes viral on social media Why the alleged AMS sexcapade is a big dud Singhvi CD: Damned if he quit, damned if he didnt Singhvi sex video: Why the last word may not have been said 04 06 07 09

The Fall out


Abhishek Singhvi quits from all Congress positions, Parl committee The Abhishek Manu Singhvi Test of English Full Text: Abhishek Singhvis resignation letter After resignation, Singhvi stays away from Parliament 12 13 14 15

The role of social media


Social media should not become a victim of Singhvis sex tape Organised gang spreading clip on social media: Singhvi The Singhvi CD case wont affect social media: Sibal Singhvi sex video: Katju wants curbs on social media misuse 18 20 21 22

Reactions
Courts shouldnt interfere in cases like Singhvis: Jaitley Singhvi CD issue his private affair: Khurshid 25 26

The Dirty Details

Busted: Singhvi sex video goes viral on social media

The mainstream media may have been gagged by the courts, but the sex CD has acquired a life of its own in the parallel universe of social media.
Venky Vembu, Apr 20, 2012 he sex video allegedly featuring Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi and a lawyer has gone viral on social media platforms and on the Internet, defeating Singhvis legal exertions to have its telecast blocked in the mainstream media. The 12 minute, 40 second video was first uploaded around 9 pm on Thursday on YouTube, but was pulled down within 20 minutes, for violation of YouTubes terms of service on nudity and sexual content. A Facebook page too was created with links to the video. The creator of the Facebook page suggests s/he has more videos that are more incriminating and implicating other leading politicians as well. (Its hard to say if its true or just bluster.)

The cat-and-mouse game continued all night with netizens repeatedly posting the video on YouTube and uploading bit torrent files on file sharing platforms, from where they can be downloaded. As of this morning, there are websites that are streaming the video as embeds. Feisty commentators on Twitter have been posting links and mocking Singhvi all night. The video, recorded in what appears to be a Court Chamber room, is grainy, and not overthe-top explicit although there is no doubt about the sexual nature of the activity it records. Nor do the conversations between the protagonists contain any reference to an offer of judgeship (as has been alleged).

But with all its faults, the video is almost certain to torpedo Singhvis political career. Singhvi has claimed that the CD was forged, concocted, morphed and fabricated, but as Firstpost noted, thats a bit of a stretch. On the face of it, the video only depicts consensual sex between two adults, which in itself isnt a big deal. And politicians have survived sex scandals in the past. But videos of this sort have a certain permanence about them: BJP leader Bangaru Laxman, for instance, was caught on camera accepting wads of money from Tehelka reporters posing as arms merchants. And for all the spin that he put on it claiming that he was merely accepting the money on behalf of the party the clip was on permanent loop in peoples minds. Likewise, Singhvi, a Congress spokesperson who is a permanent talking head on television, may never be able to appear on screen without peoples minds darting to the unsightly image from the video of a bare butt reflected on a bookshelf laden with legal tomes. It is, as one Twitter user observed, an image laden with symbolism. In this case, if as is claimed the other instalments of the video (if they exist at all) establish that an offer of judgeship was indeed made, that could be even more ruinous. This may explain why Singhvi has been working overtime to stop the telecast of the video, securing an injunction against India Today, Headlines Today and Aaj Tak, which had secured the seedy CD, recorded by Singhvis former driver Mukesh Lal.

Justice Reva Khetrapal of the Delhi High Court had, while ordering the injunction, said that irreparable injury is likely to be caused to Singhvis reputation and goodwill if the contents of the CD were disseminated. Singhvi claimed that any move to telecast the fabricated CD would damage his reputation. On Thursday, Singhvi and Mukesh Lal told the court that the two had amicably settled the matter. The videos went viral on social media platforms barely hours later. The episode is a telling example of how social media platforms have been able to have a parallel conversation, operating outside the area of legal injunctions of the sorts that inhibit mainstream media. Its the kind of thing that keeps Kapil Sibal up at nights and working overtime to choke social media platforms. For politicians, the lesson is this: if theres a video out there, it will get out despite all your exertions to block its telecast in the mainstream media. Sure, theres a lot of unverified information on the Internet and it is an echo chamber that amplifies the most incendiary and regressive ideas. And, yes, in some cases reputations get maligned unfairly. Its not always a happy ending, but its the new normal. And unless they clamp down, Chinastyle, on free speech and face a bigger backlash, leaders will have to deal with it. Welcome to the parallel universe of the social media. And, smile please: youre on camera.

Why the alleged AMS sexcapade is a big dud


Abhishek Manu Singhvi is in big trouble over his alleged sexual antics. But here are five reasons why the actual video clip is downright lame.
FP Staff, Apr 20, 2012

echara Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The opposition wants him to come clean, his own party just wants him to disappear, and the jokes keep coming: Guess this is why Singhvi is a member of the Parliamentary standing committee. Ha, ha, ha! All this because he allegedly got a little naughty in his chambers with a friend. Besides, having watched the offending clip online, we have to sadly report that the sexcapade if thats what it was is a big dud. And here are five reasons why: One, wheres the oomph? Our politicians are staunchly committed to servicing our nations youth, especially in bed. But theres no nubile young hottie rolling around in the sheets here. The clip shows our hero has shockingly chosen to consort with a woman close to his own age! The travesty! Two, wheres the sleaze? As dull as they may be in their public lives, our politicians rarely disappoint in their bedroom antics. Even an octogenarian like ND Tiwari knows what it takes to make a really dirty home video. Our sex video is far more remarkable for how much it leaves to our overtaxed imaginations. Oh, look, a bald head, bobbing in and out of view. We all know what that means! This is one porn clip even our censor board would approve. As one disgruntled viewer put it, If you cannot see anything, then whats the point of taking pictures at all. Three, so much talking, talking, talking. A huge chunk of the nearly 13-minute clip is taken up

with chit-chat and of the most boring kind. Much of it is desultory mumbling, but heres what we do know. The lady is totally alone and has gotten used to it. And he doesnt do birthdays and stuff like that. They talk, they get it on, and go right back to talking. The most striking thing about this clip: its downright marital! Four, no misuse of power. Issues that are floating around are very serious in nature. So I feel either Mr Singhvi or the court should let us know what the truth is all about claimed BJP spokesperson Kirti Azad, with more hope than cause. Theres not a whit of evidence of political favours being traded. Its more likely that these theories have been floated as an excuse to make our protagonists private life a matter of public interest. Nice try, except none of it is very interesting. Not only is the lady in question is rumoured to be staidly middle-aged, but also rich and influential in her own right. Damn you, man! Five, no dead bodies. A number of political sex scandals end in tragedy usually for the other woman involved. Think Bhanwari Devi. So kudos to our Lothario for keeping his sexual drama to the level of a bland extramarital farce. Hes run back to the wife and kids. Shes keeping a studiedly low profile. Everyones a bit sheepish, but happily alive and accounted for. So lets give the poor guy a break assuming its really AMS in the video clip. Like most cheating spouses, hes already paid the price in personal humiliation. And theres more to come. Just imagine the number of media questions that will include the word briefs.

Damned if he quit,
damned if he didnt
The BJP is out to milk the issue. But theres not much to extract out of it.
Akshaya Mishra, Apr 23, 2012

Singhvi CD:

enior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi appears to have made the correct move by resigning as Congress spokesperson and chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice in the wake of the CD controversy. His decision, in his own admission, is calculated to save the party some blushes inside Parliament and outside it. I have done this only to prevent even the slightest possible Parliamentary disruption regarding the purported CDs being circulated about me. Since I am a disciplined party soldier, I did not think it fit to subject the party to any inconvenience on this account. All allegations are patently baseless and false, he said in a written statement. But if he is not guilty, then why did he resign? Does not it tantamount to admission of guilt? These are the questions that would do the rounds in the coming days. These are not easy questions to answer, particularly when you are a politician. Actually, its a damned if you do and damned if you dont situation. Had Singhvi hung on to his position, there would be questions on why he is not quitting after being caught in the act. The arguments, like in Singhvis case, that the CD was morphed and the driver concerned had admitted to wrongdoing, become irrelevant once the political opponents take over a case like this. It also becomes redundant that the alleged sexual act was between two consenting adults and there is no victim in the case.

I wish to categorically state that canards and baseless allegations are being spread about alleged inappropriate conversation in the CD. People inimically opposed to me, who have assiduously spent over 10 days hearing, seeing, amplifying and distilling the CD have found no vestige of any reference, not even remotely, to any illegality, corrupt practice, or wrongdoing, Singhvi said. But political opponents have smelled blood already. That the BJP is out to make political capital of the CD episode is clear. It wants an investigation to figure out the authenticity of the CD in which Singhvi was allegedly shown as having consensual sex with a senior woman lawyer. If the CD is genuine, it should be sent to the parliamentary ethics committee, it says. Parliament should be told what are the reasons that led to Singhvis resignation, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said. After Singhvis resignation, stretching the matter makes little sense. It is likely that the BJP would gain little politically out of the exercise. Even if the CD proves to be genuine, theres hardly anything controversial in it. But given the level of political acrimony between the two major political parties, the major opposition party is unlikely to let go of the issue without milking it fully. The Congress would not have done anything different had a BJP leader been in a similar predicament. This is a sorry statement on the political culture of the country.

Why the last word may not


have been said
An RTI application has been filed to seek information from the Supreme Court on the recommendation for appointment of the lawyer in the CD. What will it reveal?
Venky Vembu, Apr 24, 2012

Singhvi sex video:

bhishek Manu Singhvi may have resigned as chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and as Congress spokesperson following the controversy over a sex video that allegedly features him, but theres reason to believe that the last word on this episode hasnt yet been said. On the face of it, and purely from a legal point

of view, there is as yet no evidence to establish that even if the sex video thats gone viral on social media platforms despite a court injunction against its dissemination did in fact feature Singhvi (which he denies), there was any further wrongdoing. Specifically, nothing in the video so far establishes that sexual favours were exchanged for an

offer of judgeship. BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told CNN-IBN that the audio begins with the person purported to be Singhvi asking: So when are you becoming a judge? Evidently Lekhis powers of hearing are sharper than that of many others who have been dissecting the tape for clinching evidence of ethical violations in the appointment of judges. But even if it is true and such a statement was in fact made, that in itself doesnt become clinching evidence of wrongdoing. In his statement announcing his resignation, which is a masterly exercise in doublespeak, this is the point that Singhvi milks with lawyerly precision. Some sections of the print and visual media are spreading a falsehood simply by repetition and hearsay that there is reference in the CD to the promise of any post, Singhvi noted. No one has heard any such reference in the CD. There is none simply because it does not exist. It is pure imagination, wishful thinking and sensationalism. The canard was spread simply to give the issue a public interest flavour since otherwise the contents of the CD, assuming them to be true (which they certainly are not), would disclose only something private and consensual giving a cause of action only to aggrieved family members (who have stood completely by me) and to no one else. Yet, for all of Singhvis protestations of injured innocence, he is behind the curve on the political ramifications of this case. Nobody has an interest in the intimate details of politicians sex lives, least of all one so low profile as Singhvi; the sex video may show up a man whose moral standards dont measure up to exacting standards of decorum, but that in itself has little of political consequence. The case assumed significance only because of the allegation about an offer of judgeship, which, if confirmed, would have amounted to a serious ethical violation.

Yet, Singhvi is wrong to assume that since the audiotape offers no such evidence, his claim that this is a campaign of calumny stands vindicated. Even though Opposition parties havent exactly gone on the offensive against Singhvi, the matter has acquired traction in the public domain, and the case is being taken forward by legal vigilantes who are keen to ferret out yet more details. For instance, now that the identity of the woman in the sex video has been outed, an RTI application was filed on Monday with the Supreme Court to secure all information relating to the consideration of the lawyer for appointment or elevation as a judge of the Delhi High Court. (More details of the RTI application here.) This may seem like something of fishing expedition in the hope that some muck will come up. But it establishes that the interest in the case isnt just about prurient interest in the sex lives of a politician, and that there are other levers that legal vigilantes can operate top get to the facts of the case. Singhvi may be on solid legal ground insofar as the video tape is concerned, but so far he has been at the losing end. He did secure a legal injunction against dissemination of the CD, but it went viral on social media platforms and he could do nothing about it. Even the video may not have offered clinching evidence of wrongdoing, but he nevertheless had to resign because public perception was against his him. And now, an RTI application has been filed to secure the details of the case. If Singhvi reasons that his resignation closes the sordid case, he may be in for a surprise. This story has refocused attention on the collegium that makes recommendations for judicial appointments and the opaque procedures involved, and now that an RTI application has been filed in this specific case, Singhvi will remain the focus of unsavoury attention.

The Fall out

Abhishek Singhvi quits from all Congress positions, Parl committee


After battling the controversy of an obscene video clip, the Congress leader today resigned as the spokesperson of the party and from a Parliamentary standing committee.
FP Staff, Apr 23, 2012

mbattled by a controversy over a clip showing him in a compromising position, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi today resigned as the spokesperson for the party and as chairperson of a Parliamentary standing committee. Singhvi today issued a statement saying that he was resigning as the party spokesperson and from the post of Chairperson of the standing committee on law and justice, CNN IBN reported. Since I am a disciplined party soldier I did not think it fit to subject the party to any inconvenience on this account, Singhvi was quoted as saying in the statement. I wish to categorically state that canards and baseless allegations are being spread about inappropriate conversations in the CD. It is lamentable that such canards are being spread about a CD which has, in fact, been accepted thrice over to be fabricated and morphed, he said. The senior Congress leader, who is also a senior Supreme Court lawyer, had obtained a court restraint against media houses broadcasting the clip which had allegedly been distributed by a former chauffeur.

Following the court restraint, Singhvi and his former chauffeur had said that they had sorted out the matter amicably and no further action would be taken against him. However, the clip was leaked onto social media like Twitter and Facebook and went viral. Singhvi had accused an organised gang of circulating the clip to defame him. Following the release of the clip on social media, Jaitley had stayed away from addressing the media. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said the party had not been able to discuss the matter yet. Since he has resigned from a Parliamentary body we believe he will specify before the Speaker the reasons why he resigned, he said after a party meet today. Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP spokesperson told CNN IBN that she welcomed the decision by Singhvi to resign from the post. She said the release of the video clip affected three institutions: Singhvis marriage, the judiciary and the Parliament and it was correct on his part to resign given the controversy.

Test of English
Abhishek Manu Singhvis resignation letter made me pause to recall the meaning of some of his choice of words, and, in one instant, taught me an absolutely new one.
Anant Rangaswami, Apr 24, 2012

The Abhishek Manu Singhvi

ast evening, I had much to be grateful to Abhishek Manu Singhvi for. In this age of twitter and SMS and short updates, even the best-read talk and write like schoolchildren in standard 6, preferring to use short, mono and disyllabic words rather than pause for a moment and find and use the mot juste. Mr. Singhvi has no such restraints; he demonstrates, through his stunning and captivating resignation letter, that, whatever the circumstances, he prefers the old school to the new. The result, and the reason for my gratitude, that he makes me pause to recall the meaning of some of his choice of words, and, in one instant, teaches me an absolutely new one. The one word that I learned from his letter: Contumacious Its a wonderful world, so full of mystery that my Microsoft Word dictionary doesnt even know that it is one and allows me the option of ignoring the fact that it doesnt exist. Words that one knew, but one had to jog ones memory to recall the perfect meaning of: Canard The word means a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumour. By the way, Times Now, it is not cannard, which is how you spelled it for the larger part of last evening. Salacious

The word means lustful or lecherous Prurient Having, inclined to have, or characterised by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc. These four words are the highlights; there are more that you can savour if you took the trouble to read the entire text. To fully appreciate my delight with Mr Singhvis letter, Ive taken one paragraph from the original, followed by one that, perhaps, I would have written if Id found myself in a similar situation (no pun intended). It is lamentable that such canards are being spread about a CD which has, in fact, been accepted thrice over to be fabricated and morphed. The drivers disclosure statement to the police, his detailed written statement (ie written pleading) in the High Court and his oral statement recorded on oath physically in the presence of the judge, all explain how and why he created this fabrication, Mr. Singhvi wrote. This is infinitely richer than what I might have come out with: Its sad that such lies are spread about a photoshopped CD. The driver has told the police why he lied. Thank you, Mr. Singhvi, for bringing a bit of sunshine into a dull existence.

resignation letter
Abhishek Manu Singhvi resigned as Congress spokesperson and from a Parliamentary standing committee.
bhishek Manu Singhvi today resigned from all posts in the Congress party and from the Parliamentary standing committee on law and justice. Heres the full text of his resignation letter: I have decided to resign as Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law, Justice. Personnel and Grievances and have informed the Honble Congress President accordingly. I have also decided not to brief the press. I have done this only to prevent even the slightest possible Parliamentary disruption regarding the purported CDs being circulated about me. Since I am a disciplined party soldier, I did not think it fit to subject the party to any inconvenience on this account. All allegations are patently baseless and false. I wish to categorically state that canards and baseless allegations are being spread about alleged inappropriate conversation in the CD. People inimically opposed to me, who have assiduously spent over 10 days hearing, seeing, amplifying and distilling the CD have found no vestige of any reference, not even remotely, to any illegality, corrupt practice, or wrongdoing. Specifically, some sections of the print and visual media are spreading a falsehood simply by repetition and hearsay that there is reference in the CD to the promise of any post. No one has heard any such reference in the CD. There is none simply because it does not exist. It is pure imagination, wishful thinking and sensationalism. The canard was spread simply to give the issue a public interest flavour since otherwise the

Full Text: Abhishek Singhvis

IANS, Apr 23, 2012 contents of the CD, assuming them to be true (which they certainly are not), would disclose only something private and consensual giving a cause of action only to aggrieved family members (who have stood completely by me) and to no one else. It is lamentable that such canards are being spread about a CD which has, in fact, been accepted thrice over to be fabricated and morphed. The drivers disclosure statement to the police, his detailed written statement (ie written pleading) in the High Court and his oral statement recorded on oath physically in the presence of the judge, all explain how and why he created this fabrication. A reputed media house which was co-defendant in the suit also recorded a consent statement based on the statement of the author of the CD ie the driver. A final permanent decree of injunction has been passed over five days ago. It is noteworthy that the the drivers threatening and blackmailing SMSes sent to my phone (including therein references to a potential CD) had been recorded in the last week of March itself (later extracted by the police), followed by a detailed four-page police complaint filed as far back as 29/3/12, i.e a full 13 days before the alleged CDs first surfaced in the media. Either the CD is morphed or it is not. In either event it raises no public interest issue, yet evokes salacious private and prurient interest and contumacious internet violation of a flagrant kind. As a political or a professional class, instead of gleefully watching, promoting or participating in a persons natural and understandable discomfiture, we must respect privacy issues.

After resignation, Singhvi stays away from Parliament


Singhvi was absent from Parliament after he gave up key posts fearing the Opposition would raise a storm in the session.
IANS, Apr 24, 2012

ew Delhi: After giving up his position in a parliamentary committee and the Congress party over an alleged sleaze CD, Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Manu Singhvi also chose to stay away from the Parliament as the budget session resumed on Tuesday. The Congress leader, who was allegedly caught in a CD in a sexual act, was absent from Parliament after he gave up key posts fearing the Opposition would raise a storm in the session. He was the Congress spokesperson and was also

heading the parliamentary committee on law and justice, the positions from which he stepped down on Monday. Singhvi said he did so to avoid further damage to the partys image, adding that all allegations are patently baseless and false. Meanwhile, party sources say that Singhvi is also likely to lose his party posts including that of AICCs legal and human rights department.

High court dismisses PIL seeking probe


PTI, Apr 25, 2012

Singhvi sex video:

ew Delhi: The Delhi High Court today dismissed a plea for probe by the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) into the alleged CD row, purportedly involving senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The petition is dismissed. The petitioner is seeking a direction to the BCD and the Delhi High Court Bar Association to take action against the employee of the lawyer concerned. The lawyers body are not empowered to take action against an employee of an advocate, a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri said. The courts order came on a plea by a social worker, Sanjay Kumar, seeking an inqury into the CD row allegedly pertaining to Singhvi and a noted woman lawyer of the Delhi High Court. Everybody on the street is saying what is happening in the high court. Just to save the image of lawyers community, an inquiry be ordered, said the petitioners counsel Sugriv Dubey. It is a matter of record that this court has already passed an order in the matter and the PIL (public interest litigation) on the issue cannot be entertained, the bench, also comprising Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, said adding that the lawyers body cannot take any action against the employee concerned. Every employee of a lawyer has to protect the privacy of an individual and in the preset case it was the duty of the person (Singhvs driver) not to attack the individuals privacy, the PIL said. Refusing to entertain the plea, the bench said such things cannot be a subject matter of a public interest litigation.

Earlier, on 19 April, Singhvi and his former driver had informed the court they have amicably settled the matter, involving the CD, between them. Justice Reva Khetrapal had on 13 April had passed an ex-parte order restraining media groups and the driver from publishing, telecasting and broadcasting contents of the CD. Counsel for Aaj Tak, Headlines Today and India Today, had told the court that they will handover the alleged CD to the person who provided it to them. Singhvis counsel had told the court that in the light of the settlement arrived at between the parties, he would withdraw the police complaint against Mukesh Lal. The court had also taken note of Lals reply in which he apologised for sending threatening SMSs to the lawyer. The CD was sent by me in a fit of rage and vengeance. The camera was used illegally and secondly, the CDs were doctored and morphed in such a manner so as to deliberately show plaintiff 2 (Singhvi) in a bad light, the driver, in his 6-page reply, had said. Singhvi and his associate Abhimanyu Bhandari had moved the court saying they had come to know through some political leaders that some media houses were in possession of the alleged CD. They had alleged that the CD was forged, concocted, morphed and fabricated. Any move to telecast the alleged CD would infringe the right to reputation of Singhvi, the plea had said.

The role of social media

Social media should not become

a victim of Singhvis sex tape


In conveniently painting social media into labels of various kinds, the mainstream media is missing the wood for the trees.
Kartikeya Tanna, Apr 26, 2012

he CD controversy surrounding exCongress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi has given rise to numerous debates in prime-time discussions in mainstream media. Most of these have pointed to the lack of control in online media platforms. In one way, these debates were an ideal opportunity for some sections of the mainstream media to vent their disapproval of online commentators taking the liberty to criticize them. Amid these fiery debates, however, an attempt is unfortunately being made to tame the medium. The crux of the criticism of social media by the mainstream media is not dissimilar to that dealt with by Gandhiji when he explained the importance of satyagraha (soul-force) in Hind Swaraj. In responding to a point made on how numer-

ous instances in history show that war and violence have been more effective than soulforce in enabling nations to rise from oppressive regimes, Gandhiji said that history was the record of aberrational events which interrupted the regular course of nature rather than an accurate representation of the natural course. Because wars and violence were unnatural and soul-force was the natural course, he explained, history recorded the former. In conveniently painting social media into labels of various kinds, the mainstream media is missing the wood for the trees. Just as history reported primarily on the blood and gore of wars and the ensuing conquests and victories, the mainstream media has ended up focusing almost entirely on the unnatural obnoxiousness and aggression of the social media and the ensuing victories when, for example, Singhvi resigned from key posts.

It is now well-known that since many years, much of the mainstream media has been controlled by a few select groups. The right to tell the truth, as R Jagannathan points out has been mortgaged because of an over dependence of television and print media on revenues from sources having an interest in controlling or shaping the dissemination of truth. Additionally, the constraints imposed by many sections of the mainstream media upon itself in practicing access journalism in this competitive era are fairly visible in the manner in which facts and views are presented. The race to get exclusive scoops on political developments has compromised the ability to critically evaluate significant governmental programs or serious political wrongdoings. Viewed in this context, the Internet has been the best thing to happen to liberate journalism from such shackles. Internet has led to a real democratization of facts, thoughts and ideas and has challenged the orthodox notions that the power to have a say is the exclusive right of the mighty and the influential. The only accusation that can be validly sustained against online commentators writing without financial obligations is that of ideological rigidity. Furthermore, this low cost model has plugged the gap created by television and print media in its coverage on critical issues facing the nation. For example, many recent debates on the Right to Education Act or previous debates on NREGA completely overlooked serious perils which were covered at length by bloggers on social media. Time and again, several nuances and the visible impact of major governmental programs neglected by mainstream media have ultimately cropped up either during the implementation of such programs or in legal challenges in courts. More often than not, it has been found that online commentators had written on these very nuances at length on their blogs. In situations where the mainstream media is found to have overlooked serious indiscretions by our politicians, the online commentariat is bound to exhibit its outrage and ask questions. At times, sadly, the outrage and the questioning is replaced by spitefulness and voyeurism.

Equally, however, this excuse is conveniently used by many senior journalists when confronted with genuine challenges to their views or their reporting. By engaging in sweeping criticism of social media or categorizing it into a politically motivated or ideologically homogenous unit is an act of dishonesty apart from being an act of convenience. Castigating the social media by inviting like-minded public figures can only help confine oneself further into the bubble which the New Delhi gentry is infamously known for. Moreover, when senior figures in mainstream media attempt to rubbish online commentary because the latters right to tell the truth ends up offending it, the unequivocal impression sent out is that the former resents the democratization of opinions and voices brought about by the internet. It, therefore, risks being perceived as a mere extension of the intolerant State acting to strengthen its access journalism department. Conducting periodical shows on Swami Vivekananda to inspire the youth to participate in the process of nation-building has little meaning. Just like several online commentators and observers filter out half-truths and blatantly prejudiced coverage in the mainstream media and absorb insightful and constructive discourse, it is time mainstream media did the same with social media. It is important to realize that in the age of technology, truth and opinions are no longer the monopoly of the powerful sections of the media. There is huge potential of nurturing a symbiotic relationship between social media and mainstream media to elevate the overall standards of journalism and reporting. In a way, the symbiosis has already begun with various shows and news reports basing their discussions on the views of the online commentariat. This synergy must be strengthened further in a manner that the two mediums supplement, rather than isolate, each other. Cut beneath the clutter and the abuses, and one can find a wealth of intellect out in the World Wide Web. And that too, free of cost.

Organised gang spreading clip

on social media: Singhvi


The Congress spokesperson issued a statement on the video clip circulating on social networks allegedly showing him in a compromising position.
FP Staff, Apr 21, 2012

pokesperson for the Congress party Abhishek Manu Singhvi today alleged there was an organised gang which was spreading a video clip, supposedly showing him in a compromising position, over social networks despite a court restraint against media houses from distributing it. An organised gang has been purposely used by motivated interests to use the social sites for sensationalism and permanent damage, Singhvi said in a statement issued today. This can happen to anyone and if this lawlessness is allowed to continue as it is, we all will be consumed shortly, he said. Singhvi had earlier filed a case with the police and approached the Delhi high court against his

former driver and media houses, seeking a court restraint against the publication of a CD which contained a video clipping of him in a compromising position. Following the court order, the former chauffeur and Singhvi had said that they had resolved the issue amicably between them. The Congress spokesperson, who is also a senior lawyer, had earlier alleged the CD containing the clip was fabricated and morphed. While there were reports that Singhvi might not address the media on Monday, another Congress official said there was no change in schedule presently. Earlier Singhvi had avoided addressing the media citing ill health but had later attended another meeting.

The Singhvi CD case


wont affect social media: Sibal
Sibal also maintianed that the government had no business commenting on an individual issue.
PTI, Apr 23, 2012

ew Delhi: Terming the controversy over a CD purportedly involving Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi as an individual issue, the government today said it was not mulling any move to restrain social media. This government since 2004 has not taken a single step to curb the social media, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here in response to questions whether the government was thinking of imposing any curbs on the social media which has gone viral over the CD. Eight years have passed. Has the government taken any action against the social media? None. So, why do you ask this question, Sibal said. When pointed out that Singhvi has moved court, he maintained that individuals, whether in the government or outside, can adopt legal procedures to vindicate their rights. I dont think we should be asking the government to

respond to individual rights when they can be dealt with individually, Sibal said. It is an individual issue. He or she is entitled to seek relief from whichever court they wish to. Government should not be commenting on these issues, he said. Asked about Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katjus comments favouring curbs on social media, the minister said he was entitled to his views. Putting curbs on the media is a serious issue. That does not mean the media does not have any responsibilities. The media itself has certain responsibilities and our expectation is that the media must discharge those responsibilities, he said. He added that if the media does not do so then it should be debated by the people. We should have a consensus before we move forward, he said.

Singhvi sex video: Katju wants curbs on social media misuse


Katju urges the government to bring forward legislation to curb the misuse of social media to defame people.
FP Staff, Apr 23, 2012

ress Council chairman Markandey Katju has written to the government to urge it to find ways to check the misuse of social media to defame people.

issued by the Delhi High Court. As Firstpost had noted (here), the video was uploaded on social media platforms, although they kept being pulled down for violation of terms of service. Singhvi later claimed that an organised gang had been deliberately used by motivated interests to use the social media platforms for sensationalism and permanent damage.

Katjus letter comes in the context of the sex video allegedly featuring Abhishek Manu Singhvi, which went viral on social media platforms despite a legal injuction against its broadcast

Katjus letter pretty much advances the same argument. In his letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, Katju urged the government to set up an experts team to find ways to check the misuse of social media platforms in this manner. Echoing the sentiments that Kapil Sabil articulated in defence of his pressure on social media platforms to pre-screen content, Katju said that the social media was increasingly being misused to defame people and groups and religions and communities. The recent example is of dissemination of a CD which even the author admitted had been distorted for defaming a reputed senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and Member of Parliament, and the threat to defame a Union Minister, he said in the letter. Noting that the freedom that media enjoyed comes with responsibilities, Katju, a former Supreme Court judge, noted that the video was repeatedly uploaded on social media platforms even the author had acknowledged he had doctored it.

I have repeatedly said that while there is freedom of the media in our country, no freedom can be absolute, and has to be coupled with responsibilities, the letter said. In this context, he urged the government to bring forward legislation to check the misuse of the social media. Unless some curbs are placed on the social media, nobodys reputation will be safe in India. The reputation of a person is a valuable asset, and cannot be permitted to be trampled upon by mischievous people, he wrote. I would therefore request you to set up a team of legal and technical experts to find out ways and means of checking this menace, including, if the government thinks fit, initiating suitable legislation for this purpose, for filtering out such offensive material, he added. (In a column in the Indian Express, Katju holds forth on another of his favourite themes: why he says 90 percent of Indians are foolish. Read it here.)

Reactions

Courts shouldnt interfere


in cases like Singhvis: Jaitley
Should courts try to restrain the media, like in the case of the Abhishek Manu Singhvi video case, when it cant ensure that its orders can be implemented?
FP Staff, Apr 23, 2012 iven even a Delhi High courts restraint to grant such injunction is a very narrow one couldnt stop the spread of a video clip and can be exercised with great caution speof Congress leader Abhishek Manu cially in a case of libel and slander. A restraint Singhvi, should courts even bother with recan only be granted if an atrocious libel is straints on media when it cant be ensured that wholly unjustified, causing serious injury to it can be implemented? the plaintiff and it appears to a court that the defence of privilege or justification is just not Leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha and senior possible. lawyer Arun Jaitley has argued in an editorial that courts need not pass orders in cases reJaitley argues that the loss of reputation is a straining the media from broadcasting mateprivate interest but if it serves public interest rial given authorities can no longer ensure the the broadcast should be permitted unless justiorders are implemented, especially on social fication of truth appears almost impossible to be media and other internet-based media. sustained.

In the editorial in todays Indian Express , the BJP leader argues that it is nearly impossible to completely restrain digital and electronic media from broadcasting material and courts should ensure that injunctions imposed on the media shouldnt breach constitutional guarantees like freedom of speech and expression. Singhvi had obtained a restraint against media houses and his former chauffeur from broadcasting and making public a clip which allegedly showed him in a compromising position. However, despite the court order and reaching a settlement with the chauffeur who had obtained the clips, the video went viral on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Singhvi had subsequently alleged that the clip was fabricated and was being spread on the internet and social media by an organised gang to defame him. However, referring to Singhvis attempts to restrain traditional media from telecasting the clip, Jaitley says: A pre-publication injunction can only be granted in the rarest of rare cases. The jurisdiction

We could perhaps look at what happened in United Kingdom where individuals were allowed to get super-injunctions against traditional media publishing articles that could defame them or showed them in compromising positions. Media were not even allowed to report who had sought the super-injunction, something that led to a lot of speculation with many celebrities having to defend their reputations despite not having taken a court order. And just in case you dont know about superinjunctions, heres a primer. However, others like footballer Ryan Giggs who had obtained a super-injunction against reportage of an extra marital were unable to restrain social media like Twitter and an outspoken parliamentarian from spreading the news despite a court order in his favour. So does Jaitley have a point? Should courts stay out of trying to restrain the media and allow broadcast of news first following which those affected to defend their reputations? Or should they be able to restrain media despite no firm guarantee of its implementation?

Singhvi CD issue his


private affair:
Khurshid
You cannot treat everything in the same manner... Parliament must be concerned about procedure and issues and when it comes to private lives of people, I think it should be handled in a different manner, Khurshid said.
IANS, Apr 24, 2012

ew Delhi: Law Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday said the controversial CD allegedly featuring Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi is his private affair. You cannot treat everything in the same mannerParliament must be concerned about procedure and issues and when it comes to private lives of people, I think it should be handled in a different manner, Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament. Relying to a question on the Congress party

raising a hue and cry when BJP legislators in Gujarat and Karnataka were allegedly caught on camera watching porn in the house, Khurshid said: There is no private life when you are sitting inside the assembly. Singhvi Monday quit as party spokesperson and as head of the parliamentary panel on law and justice in the wake of a controversial CD allegedly featuring him. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought an explanation from him on quitting as chairman of the committee.

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