In a blow to managing director of Republic TV Arnab Goswami, Delhi High Court has issued notice to the former editor-in-chief of Times Now and his newly-launched channel and sought response on Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's defamation plea, PTI reported. In his plea, Tharoor has claimed damages and compensation of Rs 2 crore from the journalist and his channel for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news relating to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
"Bring down the rhetoric. You can put out your story, you can put out the facts. You cannot call him names. That is uncalled for," Justice Manmohan said while issuing notice to Goswami and the channel and seeking their replies by August 16, the next date of hearing.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Tharoor, said he should be protected and the channel and the journalist directed to justify the statements made against him.
Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Goswami and the channel, said they would justify each and every statement made by them and therefore, there was no need for any interim order injuncting them.
On 26 May, Tharoor had filed a civil defamation suit against Goswami and Republic TV in the Delhi High Court claiming damages and compensation of Rs 2 crore for allegedly making defamatory remarks towards him while airing news relating to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
The Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram had also sought a direction from the high court to restrain the TV channel from broadcasting any show relating to the death of his wife till the investigation is completed by the Delhi police. The Congress leader, in his lawsuit, had made Goswami and Arg Outlier Media Asianet News Private Limited, the company which owns Republic TV, as parties.
He referred to the broadcasting of news items from 8 to 13 May when the TV channel claimed to air an expose connected to the death of his wife. The lawsuit filed through advocates Muhammad Ali Khan and Gaurav Gupta denounced the news, claiming that the recordings were released in a sensational manner so as to appease the viewers and created a non-existing controversy by maligning his public life and public image.
"It is not out of place to say that defendants (Goswami and TV channel) broadcasted news reports and alleged expose' which were intended to lead the viewers to believe that the deceased was murdered either by the plaintiff (Tharoor) or at the instance of the plaintiff...Such a broadcast clearly has the potential of adversely impacting the ongoing investigation into the death of the deceased," the plea said while seeking to restrain from "maligning and defaming him in any manner" by reporting or broadcasting the news relating to the death of Pushkar.
Responding to the suit, Goswami alleged that Tharoor wants to stop his channel from finding out the truth in the Sunanda Pushkar case. "My response is that it is a matter of great concern that Tharoor wants to block a TV channel from finding out the truth about who killed his wife," PTI had quoted Goswami as saying in Mumbai.
"In fact, he should be more concerned about finding the truth. And it is he who should be asking questions about why the investigations have been so shoddy, rather than block the channels trying to finding out the truth," he further added.
According to Tharoor, Goswami (as the editor-in-chief with Times Now) had aired such news, which was restrained by the National Broadcasting Standards Authority.
In the lawsuit, he was entitled to Rs 2 crore damage and compensation "for having suffered humiliation and having suffered severe loss of reputation in the eyes of the public and he has baselessly been declared by the defendants as the alleged murderer of his late wife".
He stated that the police is probing into the matter and has also lodged an FIR.
"It is pertinent to mention that the Delhi Police took statements from a number of people, including him," the suit said, adding that during the probe not a single allegation has been made by the investigating authorities against the MP.
Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a five-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of 17 January, 2014.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: May 29, 2017 14:28 PM