02 March, 2021

Anonymous Sources

An interim order from the SC on reporting sparks off important questions

Illustration by Sorit
Anonymous Sources

Two years ago, a senior police officer of Uttar Pradesh addressed a press conference, perhaps his first, updating the media about the investigations into the murder of the teenaged Arushi Talwar. His statements made headlines. “They (the young girl and a domestic help, who was also killed) were found in an objectionable though not compromising situation,” he said. Inspector-General (IG) Gurudarshan Singh, perhaps a parent himself, didn’t flinch when he spoke those lines, over which he should have agonised before going live in front of TV cameras. The media lapped it up, even using  his statement as a springboard for speculation.

Senior CBI officers who were later brought in to investigate the case too kept releasing sensitive information scraps that offered context to the media, keeping the focus firmly on the teenager’s parents, dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. In order not to break service rules, these officers would ensure they were quoted as unnamed sources. But what they offered—even if mere...

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