Bollywood associations & producers file legal suits against Times Now & Republic TV

The suit seeks to refrain the channels from making derogatory and defamatory remarks.

NEW DELHI: The trouble surrounding the nation’s news broadcasting industry does not seem to be dying down. Last week, a few channels got embroiled in the TRP manipulation scandal, and now the Indian film fraternity appears to have joined forces against them.

Four Bollywood industry associations and 34 leading film producers have filed a civil suit before the Delhi High Court against Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari, and Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar, on their coverage of the drugs probe being carried out by the Narcotics Control Bureau in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

The suit urges the court to restrain these channels – along with their editors and journalists – from making “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks” against Bollywood and the members of the film fraternity. 

The producers have taken exception to several derogatory phrases used during the coverage such as ‘dirt,’ ‘filth,’ ‘scum,’ ‘druggies’ and expressions such as ‘it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned,’ ‘all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood,’ ‘This is the dirtiest industry in the country,’ and ‘cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood’.

The suit states, "The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the Defendants. This is in addition to the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in extreme revenues and work opportunity loss. The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination."

In their plea, the producers have asked Delhi High Court to pass directions ordering Times Now and Republic TV to withdraw, recall and take down all the defamatory content published by them against Bollywood. The suit also seeks that the channels and the four people mentioned abide by the provisions of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

While the producers don't call for blanket media gag in the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation, they want the court to stop reportage that violates the law. The suit further asks the channels not to conduct media trials of Bollywood personalities and to stop interfering with the privacy of those associated with Bollywood.

Reacting to the lawsuit, Times Now news editor Rahul Shivshankar said in a tweet that filing cases against journalists "that have only sought justice for those who are wronged" would set a bad precedent.

Navika Kumar also took to Twitter, saying: "All the A-listers can come together but India will continue to fight for the truth. You can’t intimidate us."

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