It was a vote of thanks, brief but with a punch. The occasion was the 16th 16th Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards held in Delhi. The Chief Justice of India (CJI), DY Chandrachud had just delivered the keynote address after presenting these awards.The speaker was Raj Kamal Jha, editor in chief of Indian Express, cap in place, dressed in his signature black with bright red socks.
Raj Kamal Jha said for journalists and journalism, year after year, case after case, their starlight has illuminated the road ahead. Jha joked, “We have the privilege of the presence of the honourable Chief Justice. And there is absolutely nothing in a sealed cover. This is a vote of thanks but in the times we live in, I want to say there will be no vote – there will just be thanks here.”
Jha went on to affirm his faith in the Supreme Court that he said would remain the North Star.
“For journalists and journalism, year after year, case after case, their starlight has illuminated the road ahead. That’s why, when the lights dim, when a reporter is arrested under a law meant for terrorists, when another is arrested for asking a question, when a university teacher is picked up for sharing a cartoon, a college student for a speech, a film star for a comment, or when a rejoinder to a story comes in the form of a police FIR – we turn to the North Star for its guiding light.”
Unsurprisingly, his brief vote of thanks, delivered in the presence of politicians from the ruling party and opposition, union minister for I & B, Anurag Thakur and senior counsel and Rajya Sabha member, Kapil Sibal created a storm on twitter. In these days of studied silences, when voices do speak, people listen.