Defamation complaint filed by Naeem Akhter, has been quashed by High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Akhter a senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former member of J and K Legislative Assembly, had filed defamation case against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and journalist Aditya Raj Kaul.
According to Bar and BenchSingle-judge Justice Sanjay Dhar quashed the defamation proceedings pending before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar noting that the news broadcast in question was based on a letter written by one Khalid Jahangir and no allegation emanated from the news anchors or the channel.
“Having carefully watched the news programme contained in the compact disk attached to the complaint, I do not find any imputation or any allegation having emanated from the presenters of the news programme. The anchors and the presenters only repeatedly referred to the letter of Shri Khalid Jahangir and read out contents,” the judgment said.
The Court further said that the news anchor repeatedly made it clear that their information was based on the letter and also conveyed to the viewers that the contents of the letter are yet to be established.
“By doing so, the channel has, while telecasting the programme, taken due care that is expected of a responsible news channel. In view of the matter, it can not be stated that the accused intended to harm the reputation of the complainant,” the Court ruled.
The complaint against Goswami and Kaul was filed in year 2018 under section 499 and 500 RPC before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar.
In the complaint it was alleged that on July 4, 2018, Republic TV broadcast a defamatory and malicious news segment against the complainant following a letter dated June 21, 2018, written by one Khalid Jahangir, member of Bhartiya Janta Party and former VC of J&K Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC), to the Governor.
In the letter, Jahangir had leveled allegations of corruption and favouritism against a close aide of former Chief Minister of the State. According to the complainant, even though the letter did not make a mention of name of any person, yet Goswami, while reporting about the said letter, deliberately and intentionally mentioned the name of complainant in connection with the allegations leveled in the letter of Jahangir.
The court, however, took cognizance and initiated the process against petitioners, and also issued bailable warrants for securing attendance of the petitioners.
In their plea before the High Court, the petitioners challenged the complaint as well as the proceedings emanating from it on the grounds that the allegations of corruption against the complainant were not made by the petitioners but were made by Jahangir in his letter addressed to the Governor and the petitioners on the basis of the said latter only broadcast a news segment relating to these allegations.