TWO MONTHS after they approached the Delhi High Court to restrain news channels from airing alleged defamatory and derogatory content against the film industry, 38 leading cinema associations and production houses on Monday suggested to put an end to their legal battle if the channels follow directions part of the court order last month — to ensure no defamatory content is uploaded on their social media platforms or broadcasted on their channels.
In the order dated November 9, Justice Rajiv Shakdher had also recorded an assurance from the news channels — Republic TV, Times Now and others — that they will follow the programme code which has been drawn up under the framework of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
“If it is okay, the suit can be disposed of in terms of 7 and 7.1 (referring to the court direction and assurance given by the television channels as recorded in the order),” senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing the plaintiffs, submitted during the second hearing of the matter.
However, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, representing Times Now, opposed the suggestion, saying they challenge the maintainability of the suit itself. “The plaintiffs have no locus to file this present suit,” Sethi submitted, adding the alleged defamatory content is not “qua any of the plaintiffs”. “There is no allegation made against any of the plaintiffs,” he said.
Last month, the court had asked why aggrieved individuals have not personally become plaintiffs in the case. On Monday, the court observed the suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Nayar submitted they were waiting for responses from the defendants.
The court on Monday adjourned the matter for March 23 after a brief hearing.
The court last month observed that it expects fair reportage and neutrality from the media and asserted there needs to be some “toning down” as it commented that people were “afraid” of the fourth estate.
According to the production houses and cinema associations, the channels are conducting and publishing “parallel private ‘investigations’” and effectively acting as courts to condemn persons associated with Bollywood as guilty. “Bollywood is unique and stands on a different footing from any other industry in as much as it is an industry that is dependent almost solely on goodwill, appreciation and acceptance of its audience. The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the defendants,” the suit contends.
Those who have moved the High Court are the Film & Television Producers Guild of India (PGI), Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), Screenwriters Association (SWA), Aamir Khan Productions, Ad-Labs Films, Ajay Devgn Films, Andolan Films, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions, BSK Network and Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Clean Slate Filmz, Dharma Productions, Emmay Entertainment & Motion Pictures, Excel Entertainment, Filmkraft Productions, Hope Production, Kabir Khan Films, Luv Films, Macguffin Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, One India Stories, R S Entertainment (Ramesh Sippy Entertainment), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, Red Chillies Entertainment, Reel Life Productions, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Picturez, Roy Kapur Films, Salman Khan Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Sohail Khan Productions, Tiger Baby Digital, Vinod Chopra Films, Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures and Yashraj Films.
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