PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The prickly republic has been pricked again.
Rajiv Tuli, a “citizen of Bharat” residing in west Delhi and a follower of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has sent off a “notice” to eight national TV news channels for broadcasting “potentially defamatory content” on the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat earlier this year.
After the Delhi gangrape victim’s death, Bhagwat had first been quoted as saying that rapes took place in India, not Bharat. Then, on January 6, he was quoted by TV stations as saying that marriage was sacrosanct; not a contract which could be revoked or severed at any time.
It is on the latter, during which Bhagwat was also reported to have said “Women should be housewives, men should be breadwinners,” that Tuli, a lawyer, has accused TV news channels of “false, erroneous and malicious reporting ” as a result of which his client had to face a “hellish” situation.
It is not known if newspapers which ran Bhagwat’s quote have heard from Shri Tuli.
The operative paragraphs of Tuli’s notice reads:
“Your channel was conscious of the power and impact of the audio-visual medium and the phenomenal reach of their news channels, and to cause incalculable harm your channel has reported as if the Sangh pramukh has said “Women should be housewives, men should be breadwinners”, for Bharatiya marriage, which he never said as is evident from full speech delivered on 6 January 2013, at Indore.
“RSS respects every woman as equal to other and marriage as a sacrament and a permanent bond. You have mischievously twisted the facts and the news reports are not only distorted but are highly defamatory. This is a deliberate attempt to lower the image of the Swayamsevak in public.
“By virtue of this broadcast, you have not ensured impartiality and objectivity in reporting or neutrality. It has occurred to arouse passions to endanger the national security and tranquillity. The ethics and broadcasting standards have been violated by you and the reporting has been done unfairly to tarnish the image of the swayamsevaks and RSS….
“When you comment on a person’s views you ought to project it in the totality of the entire gamut of ideas presented by the speaker. On the contrary your conduct has been one of gross irresponsibility and misuse of the freedom of the press and you have let loose an attack on Mohanji Bhagwat who is held in high esteem by crores of Bharatiyas.
“You did it with the ulterior motive to tarnish the image of the RSS and crores of swayamsevaks in and out of Bharat.
“Your conduct is intentional, motivated, and with view to scandalise and malign the person and the organisation. You mischievously and maliciously, broadcast a false, distorted version of the speech and rushed to insensible conclusions and let loose through your channel reaching the general populace of the country and the world at large.
“You are fully aware that law laid down by the hon’ble Supreme Court is binding under Article 141 of the Constitution. In the case of S. Khushboo vs Kanniammal reported in AIR 2010 SC 3196 the Hon’ble Supreme Court reflected as under…
“It is therefore not only desirable but imperative that electronic and news media should also pay a positive role in presenting to general public as to what actually transpires during the course of hearing and it should not be published in such a manner so as to get unnecessary publicity of its own paper or news channel. Such a tendency should be stopped as without knowing the reference in context of which questions were put forth by the Court, the same were misquoted which raised unnecessary hue and cry.”
The notice contends that the news channels, without due care and attention, had caused “grave injury to the reputation of my client as also the reputation of all other swayamsevaks”.
“After the dissemination of your highly false, distorted and malicious news, my client had to face a “hellish” situation”. He was put to shame and embarrassment even at the hands of his friends and persons acquainted with him….
“Therefore, you are called upon to broadcast a sincere apology on your channel several times prominently, for such mischievous, scandalous and defamatory content… and further take action against the person(s) responsible for unfair, unethical broadcasting.”
In recent months, a number of politicians have taken legal sometimes against other politicians (Nitin Gadkari vs Digvijay singh, or Smriti Irani vs Sanjay Nirupam) but mostly against media (Salman Khurshid vs Aaj Tak, Mukesh Ambani vs everybody)
Also read: Mukesh Ambani ‘sues’ TV channels on Kejriwal