Delhi HC rejects Naveen Jindal’s plea to restrain Zee News from airing coverage about him

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today refused to grant MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal's plea for a blanket order restraining Zee Media channels from airing news reports which he alleged were defamatory in the content.

 The Court however directed Zee News to obtain and air the views of Jindal and/or his companies while televising any programme pertaining to them.

The Court said that Jindal and his company Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) had not been able to satisfy that they had got a prima facie good case and disposed of their plea.

The Court acknowledged and upheld the right of news channels observing that Zee Media news channels are free to air news reports pertaining to the Congress MP or his companies during the 16th Lok Sabha Election in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA).

 Jindal had filed a case against Zee Media Corporation alleging defamation and seeking injunction against Zee News from publishing / airing or telecasting on its channels or website any news report which may be vindictive or defamatory to his reputation or that may be relating to his election campaign. The Court, after hearing the parties, declined the injunction as sought by Jindal.

 The Court held that when Jindal, holder of a public office and aspiring to become a member of an elected body is amidst the din of electioneering, all kinds of accusations and counter accusations are bound to flash thick and fast in all directions of which a person must not complain unless and until the allegations against him are per se defamatory.

 The Court has come to the conclusion that Jindal is not entitled for any injunction and the televised reporting by Zee News are not defamatory. After going through each and every allegations and comments made by Zee News channel in its news reports pertaining to Jindal, the Court held that the same cannot be said to be defamatory.

 The Court has further held that to restrain the defendant – Zee News - from pre-telecasting the programme or the news article or the reporting at this stage would not only be a gagging right to freedom of press but also gagging of the public to know about a candidate who is sought to be elected by the electorate.

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