February 3, 2021 11:37:00 pm
A Mumbai Police deputy commissioner (DCP) on Wednesday filed a complaint alleging defamation against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami and media company ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which runs Republic Media Network, for their coverage on the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput last year.
The complaint filed before the Mumbai city civil and sessions court by Abhishek Trimukhe, an IPS officer serving as the DCP (Zone IX), stated that a panel discussion on the channel Republic Bharat had referred to phone records showing contact between actor and Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and Trimukhe, which was “malicious” and done to harm his reputation.
“One is bound to tolerate criticism and as a public servant in a democratic country, one welcomes it. However, one is legally entitled to not tolerate defamatory attacks under the guise of criticism, aimed at destroying the reputation built by one over their lifetime,” the complaint added.
Referring to a show on the channel, the complaint claimed that an inference was made that the Mumbai Police was hand-in-glove with those alleged to have committed an offence against Rajput.
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“The averments also impute that the Mumbai Police and specifically, the complainant (since his image was flashed for almost the entirety of the show) are actively helping Ms Rhea Chakraborty in evading arrest and on how to go about destroying any evidence of alleged wrongdoings. These averments run counter to the very idea of a police department and as such cause irreparable damage to the complainant’s reputation as well as the Mumbai Police’s reputation, both within and outside the state of Maharashtra,” it added.
The complaint was filed through chief public prosecutor Jaising Desai after sanction was received from the state home department last October. It sought that the court takes cognizance of the offences under Section 499 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code and a warrant be issued against those named in the complaint.
The plea said that the DCP received numerous calls from various persons asking him to explain the veracity of the allegations, causing him to lose his reputation and goodwill of over a decade’s work in the police force.
It also sought that the DCP be paid compensation and the cost of litigation. “The said defamatory publications have also caused deep distress to his colleagues, juniors and family members,” the plea stated. It added that three respondents named in the complaint “have chosen to profit from the situation by sensationalising and scandalising the same”.
The complaint stated that the contents of such publications also lead to or are creating “unjustified rumours”. It added that publication was also a willful neglect of a known obligation of the code of ethics and broadcasting standards issued by the News Broadcasters Association. It also referred to posts on Twitter claiming that defamatory posts were made through a handle “@arnab5222”.
A statement issued by one of the legal advisors of Republic TV said, “Our initial reading of the defamation complaint is that the DCP refers to tweets from a fake Twitter handle impersonating to be Arnab. It is amusing that such a grave error has been made. Mr Goswami is not on social media and suggests a correction in the complaint, given that the specific Twitter handle extensively quoted is yet another fake handle. On the other parts, the Republic Media Network will respond legally, as per due process.”
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