Senior Journalist Barkha Dutt has moved a Delhi court demanding damages of over Rs 69,78,676 lakh (with 18 per cent interest) from Analog Media Private Limited whose owners are Congress leader Kapil Sibal and his wife Promila Sibal.
Dutt has alleged in the plea that when she was recruited for English news channel Tiranga TV she was told that the channel would continue to function for at least two years. However, within the span of 2-3 months, she was asked to terminate her contract with the company.
The plea which has been accessed by India Legal, reads “That on the 23rd of May 2019, rumours started swirling around the newsroom that the network would be shut down by the Defendants because the victory of the BJP and the return of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to power meant that the promoters of the network had lost all incentive to continue running the channel.
“Around the same time, the Plaintiff No.2 categorically inquired as to whether there were plans to shut down the channel from the Defendant No.’s 2 and 3. It was disquieting for the Plaintiff No.2 to hear such rumours because the fact of the matter was that senior journalist Mr. Maneesh Chibber had just been hired as the Editor in Chief as late as April 2019 on the express assurance that the network would continue to function for at least three years.
“During the course of the communication with the aforementioned Defendants, the Plaintiff No.2 also flagged the instances where assurances were given by the Defendants that the network would not stop functioning for at least two years after which the search for investors was to begin. It was also mentioned that the Defendant No.3 had called the Plaintiff No.2 to his residence asking her to extend her contract beyond the initial period of one year as investors would be more comfortable if she were to be part of the venture on a long-term basis. It was also mentioned that at the instance of the Defendants, the Plaintiff No.2 was constrained to terminate other professional engagements for the sake of ‘exclusivity’. It is worth noting that Plaintiff No.2 had been pressured to remove the option of working in television news on any other channel, including in Hindi news, by the Defendants during the negotiation of the aforementioned contract. Finally, the Plaintiff No.2 exhorted the Defendants to honour their contractual and ethical commitments not just to the Plaintiffs but to the rest of the staff whose bargaining positions were much worse than the Plaintiff No.2”.
—India Legal Bureau