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Delhi court issues summons to Republic TV, Arnab Goswami in defamation suit by Popular Front of India


A Delhi Court on Thursday, issued summons to Republic TV, its Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and Editor Ananya Verma in a defamation suit filed by Popular Front India (PFI/ plaintiff) alleging false reporting and damage to goodwill  [Popular Front of India v Republic Media Networks & Ors.].

The order issuing summons was passed by Additional Civil Judge Sheetal Chaudhary Pradhan of Saket Court, New Delhi, who posted the matter for further consideration on January 3, 2022.

The suit filed by PFI sought damages to the tune of ₹1 lakh and a permanent mandatory injunction against the channel from reporting any news on their channel or website tarnishing the image of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff also arraigned News Broadcast standards Association (NBSA) as defendant in the matter.
The suit assailed two news reports by the Republic TV in relation to the Darrang firing in Assam.

First was a news article titled "Darrang Firing: 2 arrested with PFI links, accused of mobilizing crowds for protest", which was published on the website of Republic TV.

Second was Republic TV's telecast of the same news in which it was alleged "Assam violence probe: Two PFI men arrested".

"In the said news article/ telecast, the defendants have made false and frivolous accusations against the plaintiff with the intent to provoke people and to cause prejudice to the name, image and goodwill of the plaintiff," the suit said.

The two persons arrested, Md Asmat Ali and Md Chand Mamud are neither members of the PFI nor connected in any manner with PFI, it was submitted.

The news was telecast and published without proper enquiry and verification, the plaintiff contended.
In order to buttress its claim, the PFI also placed reliance on the statement of Darrang Superintendent of Police who, as per the plaintiff, stated that both the accused persons in the firing case are leaders of local panchayat bodies but no links to PFI had been revealed yet.

The news telecast by Republic TV was obnoxious, vexatious, false and the channel is a blot on the face of freedom of speech and expression, PFI alleged.

"The defendants have deliberately made such libelous, defamatory and derogatory allegations with the motive to defame and malign the image of the plaintiff," the suit said.

The Court was also informed that a legal notice dated September 30, 2021 was sent to the defendants asking them to tender an unconditional apology in writing with admission of their false reporting.

The defendants, however, sent a false and evasive reply, it was highlighted.

The plaintiff had also called upon the National Broadcasting Standards Association to take appropriate action against the Republic TV but without any success.

PFI is being represented by advocate Shakeel Abbas.

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