In a temporary relief to the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the High Court of Madras on Tuesday directed two private television news channels not to telecast for a fortnight any news connecting him to the Indian Premier League (ILP) betting and fixing scandal.
The interim order was given on a petition Dhoni moved on Tuesday, which also sought Rs 100 crore from the television channels, Zee Group and News Nation, for damaging his reputation by airing malicious reports that linked him to the match-fixing and betting controversy, which had erupted after an IPS officer’s deposition to the inquiry committee became public.
The Indian captain has arraigned Zee Media Corporation Limited which runs Zee News, its editor and business head, Sudhir Chaudhary, suspended senior IPS officer G Sampath Kumar, and News Nation Network Private Ltd that runs News Nation channel as the defendants one to four.
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Dhoni charged in his petition that since February, the television news channels – and their websites – have been carrying defamatory, scandalous and libellous reports insinuating that he was involved in betting and fixing in the IPL circuit. This was to project him as an object of hate and ridicule among the general public, and malign his reputation among the millions of fans across the world, the petition added.
These media outlets should be restrained from circulating any news that would denigrate his integrity and honesty as a cricketer, except the publication of the news of any order passed by the court, sought the petition.
Holding that the petitioner had a prima facie case, Justice S Tamilvanan of the Madras High Court passed the interim order restraining the channels for two weeks, and issued notices to the defendants. Dhoni was represented by former attorney general of Tamil Nadu, PS Raman, who is also the counsel for the Indian cricket board, N Srinivasan, and his controversial son-in-law, former CSK team principal, Gurunath Meiyappan, who is still under the betting-fixing cloud.
Meanwhile, the Zee Media Corporation Limited refuted the allegations made in the defamation suit. Their media statement said: “The news channel has telecasted the story that was based on revelation made by Mr. Vindu Dara Singh & Mr. Sampat Kumar, IPS Officer during the sting operation.” It went on to add that “Zee Media Corporation Limited has already moved an intervention application along with the evidence in its possession before the Honorable Supreme Court of India in the pending SLP filed by Cricket Association of Bihar.”