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Apex court declines Times Now plea in defamation case

The Supreme Court declined to interfere with a Bombay High Court order directing Times Global Broadcasting Company

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
November 15, 2011 3:24:40 am

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with a Bombay High Court order directing Times Global Broadcasting Company,which owns the Times Now news channel,to deposit Rs 20 crore with the High Court Registry along with a bank guarantee for Rs 80 crore in a Rs 100-crore defamation suit filed by former SC Judge P B Sawant. Times Global Broadcasting was ordered by a Pune district court to pay damages to Justice Sawant for wrongly carrying his picture on Times Now while telecasting a story on the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam.

On September 28,a Division Bench of the Bombay HC had directed the company to deposit the money within six weeks and the bank guarantee within 10 weeks. The Bench had ordered that the deposited amount would be invested in a fixed deposit,initially for a period of one year with a nationalised bank.

In its plea to the apex court,Times Global Broadcasting had challenged the HC order while also praying for a stay on the same. On Monday,the apex court Bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said,“We find no reason to interfere with HC order directing the petitioner to deposit Rs 20 crore and furnish bank guarantee for the rest Rs 80 crore.”

Justice Sawant had sued the channel for displaying his photo wrongly during telecast of a news bulletin on September 10,2008 on the PF scam.

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On Monday,the senior counsel appearing for the company submitted that there were serious questions arising out of the High Court’s order and it should be stayed. The company has been maintaining that it had already apologised to Justice Sawant in its news scroll for five days in 2008 and was,therefore,not liable to pay any damages.

During the hearing before the Bombay HC,the channel had also asserted that the action of carrying Justice Sawant’s picture was a totally unintended inadvertence and corrective steps,including writing a letter to him,were taken at the earliest opportunity.

Sawant’s lawyer had argued that the day the news item appeared in September 2008,his secretary had called up the channel within hours but it hadn’t taken corrective measures. Five days later,on September 15,Sawant sent another letter to the channel,which was received on September 19. However,the clarification started appearing only on September 23.

According to Sawant’s lawyer,this demonstrated the “reckless attitude” of the defendants and hence no case was made out to either reduce their deposit or their security.

Editors’ Guild expresses concern

The Editors’ Guild of India on Monday expressed concern at the apex court ruling,rejecting a plea by Times Global Broadcasting Company,owner of Times Now channel,to stay the High Court decree for damages worth Rs 100 crore

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