Friday, February 3, 2023

Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre, news broadcasting and digital standards body, India Today in plea

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The Delhi High Court has today issued notice to the Centre, the News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) and India Today in a petition filed by Delhi-based businessman Arjun Jain aggrieved by reports on India Today TV channel insinuating his connection to the Mumbai Cruise Rave Case, involving Aryan Khan, the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli directed India Today to ensure that it acts strictly in accordance with the directions issued by the Bombay High Court in Nilesh Navalakha & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.

Advocate Adit Pujari, appearing on behalf of Arjun Jain, submitted that soon after arrests were made in the Cordellia Cruise Case, India Today TV started running stories linking him to the case even though the petitioner had resigned as a director of Namas’cray on August 24. 

He added even though they have made a complain to NBDSA on October 5, 2021, but they do not have any mechanism to take effective steps and hence the petitioners have been compelled to approach this court.

During arguments, Pujari said rolling papers are sold outside the High Court premises to emphasise that it is very common, Justice Palli slammed Pujari and warned him against making loose statements.

Justice Palli to Pujari: “Don’t make statements like this, off the cuff, you are making your case worse, that too on an institution which is giving you bread & butter, giving you name.”

Pujari apologized and took back the statement made by him.

Advocate Nisha Bhambani, appearing for NBDSA, submitted there are enough Code of Ethics, Advisories and Guidelines to deal with situations like this and to ensure that the reporting is done without being sensationalised.

ASG Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Centre, supported the submissions made by Advocate Bhambani.

Senior Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah, appearing for India Today, vehemently apposed the petition and submitted, the petitioner has approached this court with unclean hands and has tried to project that, he was never associated with Namas’cray. 

Baruah further submitted that the claim of the petitioner that he has no criminal antecedents is false and was taken in custody, as recently as August 7 though he was released in 2 days upon reaching a compromise with the complainant.

Baruah concluded by stating, the reporting done by India Today is based on facts and is based on reliable information received by them, from authentic sources.

Justice Rekha Palli verbally opined: “Even though I find some merit in India Today’s claim that the petitioner has tried to conceal certain facts, not disclosing he was a director in Namas’cray until August 24. I am of the view that before passing any orders, it would be appropriate to examine the guidelines. In the light of the aforesaid no interim reliefs are awarded to the petitioner however there is no gainsaying that India Today and all other media houses ought to show restraint while reporting matters which are still under investigation by statutory authority.”

On the previous day, the court had recorded the undertaking rendered by Senior Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah on behalf of India Today that it will restrain from publishing about any previous matters related to Jain. The matter has been listed for January 31, 2022.

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