Sunanda Pushkar case: Delhi HC pulls up Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami for broadcasting defamatory content

Shashi Tharoor had filed a suit against Arnab Goswami and his channel seeking compensation and damages for making allegedly defamatory remarks during their reportage of Sunanda Pushkar’s death

Sunanda Pushkar case: Delhi HC pulls up Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami for broadcasting defamatory content
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NH Web Desk

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Republic TV to "be bound by" his undertaking on "showing restraint and bringing down the rhetoric" while covering the Sunanda Pushkar case, reports legal news website BarandBench.com.

“Responsible journalism is the need of the time,” it said.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta was hearing an application by Pushkar's husband, Shashi Tharoor who is the sole accused in the criminal case pertaining to her death in January 2017.

Tharoor had filed a suit against Goswami and his channel seeking compensation and damages for making allegedly defamatory remarks during their reportage of Sunanda Pushkar’s death.

In the application, Tharoor has sought an interim injunction restraining Goswami from levelling defamatory allegations against him with respect to the ongoing trial.

The court was informed that defamatory content was broadcasted by Goswami on multiple occasions in July and August, which claimed that Goswami had investigated the Sunanda Pushkar case better than Delhi Police and that he still had no doubt that Pushkar was murdered.

"Chargesheet has been filed. Can a man be abused..alleging that there was a murder? How can this happen?" Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for Tharoor argued.

Sibal urged the court that an injunction be granted to restrain any broadcast that implicates Tharoor.

At the very outset, the court expressed its displeasure at the claims being made by Goswami when the trial was still pending.

Noting that the Delhi Police was pursuing a case of abetment of suicide, the court questioned counsel for Goswami, “Were you at the spot? Are you an eye witness? There is sancitity of investigation.”

In response, advocate Malvika Trivedi informed the court that there was evidence from AIIMS, based on which certain broadcast was aired.

The court, however, remarked that it was for a court of law to decide what was "evidence" in a criminal trial.


“This is not evidence. They are statements from here and there. A court has to take a point of view on what is evidence. You are nobody in the field to get evidence or get access to evidence... understand what is evidence in criminal law,” Justice Gupta said.

The court observed that there were "serious consequences" to alleging that a murder had taken place and one cannot sit in appeal against chargesheet filed by an investigating agency.

“It is not a reflection on the Plaintiff (Tharoor) but the investigating agency. Can there be a parallel investigation or trial? Would you not like the courts to take their own course?” the court remarked.

The court said that nobody wants to gag media but at the same time, sanctity of investigation must be maintained.

"People must take a course in criminal trial and then get into journalism," the court remarked.

In its order, the court noted that in December 2017, an undertaking was given by counsel for Goswami that restraint would be shown and rhetoric would be brought down while covering Sunanda Pushkar case.

Since the suit is still pending, Goswami is bound by the undertaking, the court concluded.

It reiterated that media cannot convict anyone and no unsubstantiated claims can be made, and ordered: “The Defendants are therefore directed to be bound by the statement as recorded...till the next date.”

The matter would be heard next on November 20.

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