Almost a month after journalist Jagendra Singh was allegedly killed for his social media posts against a Uttar Pradesh minister, his 22-year-old son came out of his personal grief to urge the Supreme Court, as the custodian of free speech, to protect more independent voices like his father's from being “crushed to death” in the future.
In a petition filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, Pushpendra Singh said the violent murder of his father infringed the common man's right to know the truth in a democracy. “A journalist’s role is just to disseminate news for its readers and viewers and he works for the people at large. The freedom of a journalist or a newspaper is not separate from the freedom of expression given to a common citizen, so when it is attacked it is the common man’s freedom that is attacked at large,” Mr. Singh said.
Taking his father’s case in point, he said the Supreme Court should lay down guidelines for protection of journalists. It sought a “speedy, effective and impartial grievance redressal mechanism for journalists apprehending assaults and other acts of victimization.”
“This Court is a custodian to protect the right of a journalist to exercise his freedom of expression without fear or favour, affection or ill will to bring out truth and facts and also include counter views or version expressed against his stories,” Mr. Singh, who will be represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves in court, said in the petition.
Intolerance against journalists for by the criminal-political nexus is reflected in the criminal intimidation, assault and murders they face for just doing their jobs, the petition said.
The Supreme Court has already issued notice to the Centre, the U.P. government and the Press Council of India on an earlier petition by a journalist for a CBI probe into the death of Jagendra Singh.
Singh was set on fire, allegedly by police officials during a raid at his house in Awas Vikas Colony of Sadar Bazar area in Shahjahanpur on June 1. He died of his injuries on June 8. Mr. Singh has also urged for a CBI probe investigation into his father's death.
An FIR was registered against ruling Samajwadi Party Minister Ram Murti Singh Verma and five police men.