The TOI had yesterday ( 12/10/06) a front-page item titled “HC: Why just four kinds of professionals are exempted?” This mentions a petition by “Poonam Singh, a Professor from School of Planning and Architecture”. I surmise from the reference in it to Justice Ravindra Bhat and Sarabjit Roy that the item pertains to petitions titled ‘Poonam Prakash & Others versus MOUD & Others’ that I and two others have filed that came up for third hearing yesterday. The ‘reporter’ has not spoken with me and has obviously not bothered to check even basic facts, such as filing date, number of petitioners and their names and occupations, etc. The item claims, as impact of yesterday’s TOI story, a question that the court did not even ask about an issue that is not even before the court in these petitions. The petitions were filed in July and prayed for certain information and time to be able to effectively respond to the public notices for proposals to modify MPD-2001 to implement Tejinder Khanna Committee recommendations. The court had issued notice and directed certain information to be provided for filing responses. These directions were not complied with and we were also not given hearing on the objections filed after the court’s orders. An application was filed primarily for compliance and the court has again directed respondents to file counter-affidavits.

Such irresponsible reporting is nothing new and Mr Sarbajit Roy, quoted in the items, is taking up the matter with TOI and I will also be discussing with my counsel what, if anything, I need to do. I am, however, more concerned about the larger issue of media misrepresentation of professional viewpoints to ‘fit’ certain ideas. In the present case, TOI seems to be supporting, besides TKC, expanding / blurring the definition of professions. On the peg of my petition, it has also hung a page-2 item, titled “Urban Planners want govt. to change policy”. This quotes not the planner whose petition is ‘reported’ on front page as well as on page-3, but Mr Ajay Maken (MOS in respondent no.1 that has not replied) and Mr AGK Menon and Mr EFN Rebeiro (both involved in advancing the TKC ideas that led to the petitions).  The impression conveyed is that the view of these ‘urban planners’ are the same as of the professionals who have filed petitions. This is nothing short of stifling peer discourse on professional issues.