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Published : May 25, 2014 | Author : Umang Raj
Category : Media laws | Total Views : 4343 | Rating :

Umang Raj
Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies

The Times Now Case: A tussle between the media and the judiciary

TimesNow has been slapped with a 100-Crore defamation order by a court. Times Now appealed against the Pune court's judgment in Bombay High Court in September 2011. On September 28, a division bench of Justices B.H. Marlapalle and Nishita Mhatre asked the channel to deposit Rs.20 crore in cash and give bank guarantee of Rs.80 crore if it wanted them to admit their appeal. Times Now approached the Supreme Court on November 14 against the high court's stand. However, Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhyay declined to 0hinder with the Bombay High Court's interim order.The cause for this whole episode is the wrongful inclusion of a picture of Justice P.B. Sawant along with other offenders in the Ghaziabad PF scam.

According to a National daily Justice Sawant through his secretary Mr. Kamat communicated this mistake to channel on the same day. But there was no rectification, no clarification. Justice Sawant then sent a letter to the channel on 15th September, insisting it to rectify its fault. Times Now received the letter on 18th September. Again there was no rectification, no admission of guilt. The channel finally ran an apology on 23rd September, exactly 13 days after committing the mistake and five days after receiving Justice Sawant’s letter.

In 2007 Live India news channel ran a story on Uma Khurana. “The undercover operation, aired Aug 30, showed Uma Khurana, a mathematics teacher at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in central Delhi, running a prostitution racket involving students. Immediately after the channel aired the video footage of the sting, 41-year-old Khurana was arrested on charges of immoral trafficking, was badly abused and assaulted by a mob, and later was dismissed from the government service. A week later, the sting was found to be a hoax as the woman shown as a student and a prostitution racket victim turned out to be an aspiring journalist. The channel's reporter Prakash Singh, who carried out the operation, was also arrested Sep 8 last year. A trial court later pardoned Khurana of all charges. Khurana filed a defamation suit against Live India, holding it responsible for putting her through “mental agony, humiliation and harassment”.

Let the hundred crores just be a beginning. There are no journalists administering the TV channels anymore. There are celebrities like Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and many more who look as if they have the sole right to advocate nonsense every night. Justice Sawant may be a well-known individual who has pulled up Times Now but that will be the day when common viewers start filing cases against the media. A case a day will keep them on their toes. A hundred crores is really not enough!

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