March 26, 2010 3:17:56 am
Responding to a report in The Financial Express and The Indian Express today about the battle in The Hindu boardroom,The Hindu,in a statement on its website,said that its Editor-in-Chief N Ram has decided to launch defamatory proceedings,civil and criminal against Senior Editor Archna Shukla (the reporter),the Editor-in-Chief,Editors,and Publisher of The Indian Express and The Financial Express responsible for the publication of highly defamatory material.
This relates to news stories published in The Indian Express and The Financial Express… purporting to be reports on Mr Rams role and actions in relation to developments within the newspaper group and the company,the statement said.
The statement quoted Ram as saying that the reports are riddled with demonstrable falsehoods and defamatory assertions,some of them attributed to unnamed sources,made with reckless and malicious disregard for the facts and the truth.
Ram added: And this despite the professional courtesy I extended to the journalist and the newspapers by responding precisely and factually to five specific questions emailed to me on March 24 by Ms Shukla.
In a statement,The Express Group said today:
The report,Battle for control breaks out in The Hindu very divided family,(The Indian Express,The Financial Express,
March 25,2010) is based on information received from multiple and high-level credible sources.
All facts were verified and cross-checked to the highest standards of accuracy and fairness that The Express Group holds itself to. We believe our report was neither malicious nor defamatory.
We have great regard for The Hindu as an institution and for its Editor-in-Chief N Ram as a journalist and editor for their commitment to principled journalism.
We stand by our report and the reporter.
Here,in full,is the email exchange between Shukla and Ram.
This is with regard to reports doing the rounds that there is a sort of power tussle going on at The Hindu. I have gathered the following information and I will appreciate if you could comment on them.
1. I have gathered that in a board meeting in September last year,it was decided among board members that you will step down as editor-in-chief of the group in May this year when you turn 65. Is this correct?
2. I am told that you have decided against stepping down and while some members are supporting your decision,some,including Mr Ravi,Ms Malini Parthasarathy and Mr Murali,are against this decision. Is this correct?
3. Has The Hindu board stipulated a retirement age for board members and also,the editor-in-chief or can one hold these positions for as long as he or she has the support of the board?
4. I am told that you and some other members of the board have decided to divest Mr Murali of his powers and instead make Mr Balaji the MD. What are the reasons behind the removal of Mr Murali?
5. I am told that Mr Murali was opposed to the induction of the children of some of the family members hired at very high salaries and that led to unpleasantness among members and finally,his ouster. Is this correct?
I have to file my story today. I will appreciate if you could respond to this email at your earliest convenience or allow me to call you on your phone.
Here are my answers to your five questions. They are on the record:
Answer to Q1: Completely,utterly wrong.
Answer to Q2: No comment because it is at present an internal matter of the Board of Directors of Kasturi & Sons Limited.
Answer to Q3: No retirement age has been stipulated for Directors or the Editor-in-Chief or Editor etc. No retirement age is stipulated in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company.
Answer to Q4: No comment for the reason mentioned in the answer to Q2. If any relevant decision is communicated down the line in the Company,you will know.
Answer to Q5: Totally wrong,as the written record will show. Any appointment of a relative of a Director that needed approval by both the Board of Directors and Shareholders before going to the central government was approved unanimously,without a murmur of dissent by any Director or Shareholder.
Every one of the 12 Directors of the Company approved every such appointment. To describe the relevant salaries as very high would be laughable; in fact,if the precise numbers were revealed,the salaries or remuneration would be characterised as rather low. They are similar to what other foreign correspondents of our newspaper Group get.
N. Ram,Editor-in-Chief and Publisher,The Hindu and Group publications.
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