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Divya Spandana wins defamation suit; Bengaluru court tells Asianet, Suvarna News to pay Rs 50L for linking her to 2013 IPL betting scam

A Bengaluru civil court has found media organisation Asianet and its subsidiary Suvarna News liable for defaming actor-turned-politician Divya Spandana for wrongfully linking her to the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal. The court has directed the TV channels to pay damages of Rs 50 lakh to Spandana.

The court also accepted the former MP's appeal for a permanent prohibitory injunction restraining both Asianet and Suvarna News from telecasting any programmes linking her to the case.

"On perusal of the records, it is clear that the plaintiff has blemishless records and known as a good actress in the Kannada film industry. She has also worked as a Member of Parliament," observed Patil Nagalinganagouda, VIII Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, Bengaluru, Live Law reported.

 Divya Spandana wins defamation suit; Bengaluru court tells Asianet, Suvarna News to pay Rs 50L for linking her to 2013 IPL betting scam

File image of Divya Spandana. Twitter @divyaspandana

In May 2013, two programmes aired by Suvarna News — owned and controlled by the Asianet group —  had hinted at the alleged involvement of some Kannada film actresses in the betting and spot-fixing IPL scandal. Photographs of Spandana, a former brand ambassador of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, were shown on the programmes, suggesting connivance on her part.

The Congress spokesperson filed a defamation suit against the channels, contending that she was not associated with IPL in 2013 in any manner as she was, at that time, involved in campaigning for the party for the Karnataka Assembly election.

According to the Live Law report, Asianet and Survarna News contended that news channels were entitled to broadcast news related to public events and figures. They also contended that they had made no direct reference made to Spandana, and therefore, there was no loss or damage caused to her per se. They also stated that an inquiry by police in the IPL scam had revealed the involvement of two Kannada film stars.

However, the court noted that Spandana was not associated with IPL in 2013, and that those nabbed by the Delhi and Mumbai Police in connection with the case had not named her. It held that the telecast of the programmes affected Spandana's reputation. It ruled in favour of Spandana, holding that once a plaintiff proves that publications and imputations are defamatory, the burden shifts on the defendant to justify the publication.

"...There are no records produced on behalf of the defendant to show that the plaintiff, being a brand ambassador of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, was involved in the betting and spot-fixing scandal, as transmitted in the questioned programme by the defendants. Hence, this court is of the opinion that the act of defendants is in complete violation of journalistic ethics and committed deliberately to destroy the popularity of the plaintiff. The act of the defendant is mala fide with an intention to defame her dignity," the court observed.

Spandana tweeted to acknowledge the judgment and said she was grateful for getting justice.

Moreover, Bar and Bench reported that Spandana had sought damages of Rs 10 crore from Suvarna News and Asianet. However, the court found it fit to grant damages of Rs 50 lakh, taking into consideration the status of both the plaintiff and the defendant.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 16:15:34 IST