Audi Alteram Partem – No one should be condemned unheard

Audi Alteram Partem in simple words means ‘hear the other side’. It is the most fundamental principle of Justice which states that no one ought to be judged without been given an opportunity to be heard. According to Fortescue J.[1], the first hearing in human history was given in the Garden of Eden. His Lordship observed : Even God himself did not pass sentence upon Adam, before he was called upon to make his defense. “Adam”, says God, “Where art thou? Hast thou not eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”

These days in the social media trials coupled with an over enthusiastic rush for getting “breaking news”, we have forgotten the most fundamental principle of justice which is hearing the other side of the story. This is important to apply the rules relating to reasonableness, good faith, justice, equity and good conscience. Not giving the other side an opportunity to be heard is akin to treating the words of the accuser as gospel truth and amounts to gross miscarriage of justice.

In the recent past, 2 incidents have come to fore where a lady accused an innocent person of molestation/misconduct through social media. One was the Rohtak Incident and the other the Tilak Nagar- Delhi incident. For days, the pictures of the men were flashed on all news channels, the women were termed as brave-hearts and even bravery awards were announced for them. In both such cases, the women were the wrongdoers, had misbehaved with the men and to gain media sympathy had filed frivolous cases.

In both these cases there were just some photos / videos posted by these women on social media sites which did not show the accused conducting the alleged acts. In both these incidents the eyewitnesses had a completely different story to tell. Still…….

The media themselves have not followed its ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’, issued by the Press Council of India. These norms state that media reporting should be:

  • Accurate and Fair: The media should not report inaccurate baseless, graceless, misleading or distorted material. Their reports need to be backed by irrefutable facts and evidences.
  • Pre-Publication Verification: In case of comments against a citizen, the editor should check with due care and attention its factual accuracy apart from other authentic sources
  • Caution against defamatory writings: Should not publish anything which is manifestly defamatory or libelous against any individual unless after due care and verification, there is sufficient reason/evidence to believe that it is true and its publication will be for public good.
  • Headings not to be sensational/provocative and must justify the matter printed under them

The media is answerable to these false case survivors and should be put to strict proof whether they had followed the most basis norms of journalistic conduct. Yellow Journalism should be strictly dealt with.

Presently as the situation is in India, one accusation from a woman makes the man a criminal, one accusation destroys his career and one accusation drains out his savings on legal recourse for defending himself. The woman gets a public prosecutor (i.e. an attorney appointed by the state to fight the case on her behalf). There is no accountability whatsoever for filing a frivolous complaint by the woman, in turn media treats her a survivor and terms her a brave-heart.

Over the past decade there has been an exponential rise in the frivolous case of molestation filed by women for personal, political gains and settling scores.

Molestation

Male Suicides and frivolous cases plotted on a graph and scaled to 100 is given below:scaled data 2001-2010

We need to nip this issue at the bud before it assumes disproportional magnitude which cannot be dealt with. The false accusers in these cases ought to be dispensed with iron gloves and should be booked under

  1. Section 181: Making a false statement on oath to public servant
  2. Section 182: Giving false information, with intent to cause public servant to injure another
  3. Section 191: Giving False Evidence
  4. Section 192: Fabricating False Evidence
  5. Section 211: False Charge of an offense
  6. Section 499: Defamation

Let us all Stand Up for a Cause to eradicate this social evil of false cases and media trials.

————–

[1] R.v. University of Cambridge (1723) 1 Str 557

Frivolous Cases includes: a) Cases compounded or withdrawn, b) cases declared false on account of mistake of fact or of law, c) cases not investigated or in which investigation was refused, d) cases withdrawn by the govt., and e) cases withdrawn by the govt. during investigation

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3 Responses to Audi Alteram Partem – No one should be condemned unheard

  1. The way such false cases and media outrage is increasing it is getting difficult to live in this country peacefully. Very nice article and eye opener for everyone.

    I feel such women who create sensation out of nothing needs to be punished severely.

  2. Pankaj Joshi says:

    Excellent article. False cases have ruined many lives. There has to be a system or law to hold both the media and such women accountable and punishable

  3. Xavier Alex says:

    Nice article. Facts are put out clearly.

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