An interim injunction has been sought by Shashi Tharoor restraining Arnab Goswami from making defamatory remarks against him with respect to the ongoing criminal proceedings against him in teh matter of his wife’s death in January 2017.
The Delhi High Court gave directions to Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Republic TV to “be bound by” his undertaking on “showing restraint and bringing down the rhetoric” while covering the Sunanda Pushkar case.(Shashi Tharoor vs Arnab Goswami)
An application by Shashi Tharoor being Pushkar’s husband who is the sole accused in the criminal case pertaining to her death in January 2017 was heard by Justice Mukta Gupta.
Delhi High Court expressed, “Responsible journalism is the need of the time.”
Tharoor’s suit against Arnab Goswami
A suit was filed by Tharoor against Goswami and his channel seeking compensation and damages during their reportage of Sunanda Pushkar’s death and for making allegedly defamatory remarks.
An interim injunction restraining Goswami from levelling defamatory allegations have been sought by Tharoor with respect to the ongoing trial.
It was also open to the Court’s observation that in July and August defamatory content was broadcasted by Arnab Goswami on multiple occasions which claimed that he still had no doubt that Pushkar was murdered and that he had investigated the Sunanda Pushkar case better than Delhi Police.
“Chargesheet has been filed. Can a man be abused?..alleging that there was a murder. How can this happen?”, Sibal argued.
Urging the court, Sibal said that an injunction be granted to restrain any broadcast that implicates Tharoor.
Tharoor was represented by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa and Advocate Gaurav Gupta.
Court’s Observation and Interventions
The Court was displeasured at claims made by Goswami when the trial was still pending.
The Court questioned Arnab Goswami’s counsel while noting that the Delhi Police was pursuing a case of abetment of suicide.
Where you at the spot? Are you an eye witness? There is sanctity of investigation.
Advocate Malvika Trivedi responded and informed the Court that the said broadcast was aired because there was evidence received from AIIMS.
Though it was remarked by the Court that it was for a court of law to decide what “evidence” in a criminal trial was.
Justice Gupta expressed,
“This is not evidence. They are statements from here and there. A court has to take a point of view on what is evidence. You are nobody in the field to get evidence or get access to evidence.. Understand what evidence in criminal law is”.
Observations were also made that there were “serious consequences” where one cannot sit in appeal against charge sheet filed by an investigating agency and allege that a murder had taken place.
It is not a reflection on the Plaintiff (Tharoor) but the investigating agency. Can there be a parallel investigation or trial?.. Would you not like the courts to take their own course?
The Court said that sanctity of investigation must be maintained and that nobody wants to gag media.
The Court also said,
“People must take a course in criminal trial and then get into journalism.”
The Court noted that in December 2017 order, an undertaking was given by counsel for Goswami that restraint would be shown and rhetoric would be brought down while covering Sunanda Pushkar case.
The Court concluded that Goswami is bound by the undertaking as the suit is still pending.
Court ordered and reiterated that media cannot convict anyone and no unsubstantiated claims can be made.
Delhi High Court said,
“The Defendants are therefore directed to be bound by the statement as recorded… till the next date. “
The matter is now scheduled to be heard on 20th November.