Democracy and Media

The events of the past fortnight have once again demonstrated the fragility that characterizes the fundamental rights in this country. The Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly found five senior journalists guilty of violating the legislative privileges and sought to imprison them. This episode brings into relief many questions. First, can Article 194, pertaining to legislative privileges, override freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19? Can judiciary adjudicate on the question of legislative privileges?

Citizens’ Right to Know

In a democracy the citizen is the sovereign. The elected representatives and appointed employees are public servants whose job it is to govern on behalf of citizens and provide quality services. Obviously, the public servants should be accountable to the people. The most vital tool of accountability is information on what the government agencies are doing and why.

Citizens Charters for Better Service

Rashid is a resident of Hyderabad. Some years ago he needed a no objection certificate from MCH to sell his house, and for that he had to clear all property tax dues. He approached MCH to know how much he owed in taxes. He was not seeking a favour. He wanted to pay taxes. And yet, even for this information he was made to run from pillar to post. After 9 months and 36 visits he got the answer. But only after he shelled out as a bribe an amount equal to half the tax due! This is not an isolated case.