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The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to journalist Arnab Goswami and his newly-launched news channel Republic TV over Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s defamation plea. “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. The court also sought their replies by August 16, the next date of hearing.
The court also said that just because Tharoor was not coming to their show or not giving an interview, cannot be a reason to say that he was “running away”, as was said on the news channel. A person has a “right to be silent”, it said with regard to the lack of response from Tharoor and added that “someone has not understood how our law operates”.
The observations by the court came as it issued notice to the journalist and his channel seeking their response to Tharoor’s plea claiming Rs two crore damages from them for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news relating to the death of his wife.
The court did not pass any interim order injuncting the channel from airing its news, but said “whatever be the provocation, you (Goswami) cannot call him a criminal masquerading as a politician. That is uncalled for and it is presumptive”. “You cannot use language like this. You cannot call him names. Bring down the rhetoric,” the court said.
Thereafter, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the journalist and the channel, said he will advise his clients accordingly. Sethi also said that his clients will place on record the justification for the statements made against Tharoor and therefore, no interim order should be passed.
On Friday, the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram had filed a civil defamation suit against Goswami and the TV channel, seeking damages and compensation of Rs 2 crore for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him during a news broadcast related to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
The lawsuit filed through advocates Muhammad Ali Khan and Gaurav Gupta claimed that the recordings were released in a sensational manner with an aim to appease the viewers and created a non-existing controversy by maligning his public life and image. “It is not out of place to say that defendants (Goswami and TV channel) broadcast news reports and alleged expose’ which were intended to lead the viewers to believe that the deceased was murdered either by 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.
Tharoor said Goswami had earlier aired similar news when he was the editor-in-chief with another TV news channel, which was restrained by the National Broadcasting Standards Authority. He also said the police was investigating the matter and had also registered an FIR. “It is pertinent to mention that the Delhi Police took statements from a number of people, including him,” the suit said. It also stated that during the probe not a single allegation has been made by the investigating authorities against the MP.
With PTI inputs