New Delhi: A Delhi Court has taken cognizance of the civil defamation case filed by Popular Front of India (PFI) PR Director Dr. M. Shamoon against Republic TV news channel for publishing an alleged doctored video footage whereby the former is said to have promoted violent protests and use of criminal force against the state machinery.
The Court of Additional Senior Civil Judge, Gagandeep Jindal at Saket District Court on Tuesday, passed an order to summon the channel’s chief, Arnab Goswami and others on 27th May, 2021.
As per the allegations, a person claiming to be a research scholar, approached him and started to talk about the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh and stated the need of violent agitation and protest against the law.
Plaintiff claims that he intervened and advised the gentleman to think about democratic way of protest alone and taught him the values of democracy. He claims to have never spoken about using criminal force against the state machinery or against any organization.
However, he was aghast and astonished to note that Republic TV channel (allegedly) cut and paste the said conversation as per their mind set and aired the formulated video as a “sting operation”.
He vented that such (alleged) actions of the news channel have not only caused irreparable loss to him personally but also to the nation at large. He averred,
“If the defendant were not in nasty intention, they could have aired the complete dialogue made between the plaintiff and the so called sting operator.
The defendant jointly acted against public morality in this incident. It is an attempt to make somebody as criminal that he would not have committed at all. It is against the public morality and decency and hence falls within the purview of Article 19 (2).”
“Since the contents of the fabricated video is reached worldwide, vast number of friends and colleagues of the plaintiff called him and expressed their dissatisfaction towards the plaintiff against the filthy contents of the video, which never expressed by the plaintiff really. The image and status of the plaintiff has been blatantly diminished among them.
Some of the plaintiffs well-wishers directly came to his office and unveiled their dissatisfaction on the alleged video footage. Moreover, as a medical practitioner, the plaintiff regularly come across so many patients various walks of life, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion. Some of the plaintiffs patients discontinued their consultation with the plaintiff.”
He relied on the ruling in R. Rajagopal & Anr. v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors., whereby the Supreme Court had realised the true reminiscence of the limits of freedom of press with respect to the right to privacy. It had held,
“A citizen has a right to safeguare the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child bearing and education among other matters, No One can publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent – whether truthful or otherwise and Whether laudatory or critical.
If he does so, he would be violating the right to privacy of the person concerned and would be liable in an action for damages. Position may, however, be different, if a person voluntarily thrusts himself into controversy or voluntarily invites or raises a controversy.”
Shamoon alleged that the channel, in connivance with Youtube and Twitter, deliberately uploaded the aforesaid video in public domain /social media website having vast reach in the general public, in order to cause loss and damage to his reputation.
He has therefore sought a mandatory injunction, seeking removal of the aforesaid defamatory video from their channel and other social media platforms.