As a large number of social media users are demanding apology from India Today host Rahul Kanwal for passing off a JNUSU activist as an ABVP member to allege that ABVP had planned the JNU violence, it has now come to light that senior journalist from the same channel Rajdeep Sardesai has issued an unconditional apology for airing a fake news item in 2007.
The former NDTV and CNN-News18 journalist was accused of spreading fake news on Sohrabuddin encounter case, and a case was filed against him at the Metropolitan Sessions Court in Hyderabad. The original case was filed in November 2007, and it was still going on. But in November last year, Rajdeep Sardedai and few others named in the case submitted an unconditional apology to an IPS officer, after which the case against them was dismissed by the court.
An affidavit tendering an unconditional apology to IPS officer Rajiv Trivedi and submitted to the Metropolitan Sessions Court in Hyderabad was posted by social media user Alok Bhatt today.
Rajdeep Sardesai had to apologise to Rajiv Trivedi for a program titled “30 minutes – Sohrabuddin, the inside story”, which was aired on CNN-IBN (now CNN-News18) channel on 13 May 2007. In the program, it was accused that Hyderabad Special Investigation Unit SP Rajiv Trivedi had helped the Gujarat police in nabbing Sohrabuddin. Rajdeep Sardesai had reported that Rajiv Trivedi had provided cars with fake number plates which were used to transport Sohrabuddin to Ahmedabad.
After the report, officer Trivedi had filed a Criminal Complaint against Rajdeep Sardesai and others involved in the news report, saying that it had tarnished his image. Accordingly, Hyderabad police had initiated criminal proceedings against the journalist.
After the case was filed, the Additional Metropolitan Magistrate, Hyderabad had passed an order summoning Rajdeep Sardesai & others to face the prosecution as accused. After that Rajdeep Sardesai had challenged the said summoning order by filing a petition in AP High Court, praying that the summoning order of the lower court be set aside & the criminal case against him be quashed. However, the High Court had found prima facie merit in the criminal case & accordingly dismissed Rajdeep’s challenge.
After that, Rajdeep Sardesai and others had approached the Supreme Court of India seeking to quash the criminal proceedings against them, but the apex court also had rejected their applications, saying that the case against them had merit and the trial should go on in the sessions court. The Supreme Court order issued in May 2015 said that the high court judgement rejecting the petitions for quashing the initiation of criminal proceedings against the appellants was perfectly valid.
It was argued by Rajdeep’s counsel in Supreme Court that criminal proceedings will hamper the “freedom of press”. Supreme Court had rejected the said argument by observing that individual reputation is equally important & cannot be trampled in the name of freedom of press.
The Supreme Court had said that the respondents are required to prove the allegations against the appellants by adducing valid and cogent evidence. The apex court had lifted the stay on the case in the trial court, and its last hearing took place on 15 November 2019 in the sessions court. But perhaps realising that they are fighting a long and losing battle, Rajdeep Sardesai and others from CNN-IBN channel named in the case decided to end the case by submitting unconditional apology to Rajiv Trivedi.
In the affidavit, Rajdeep Sardesai writes, “there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that Vanzara and Pandian nabbed Sohrabuddin and Kauserbi in Bidar with help from S.P. Rajiv Trivedi from Hyderabad, Special Investigation Unit and hence it was a false news telecast about Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS.” The India Today journalist further writes that “there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that Rajiv Trivedi provided cars with fake number plates in which Sohrabuddin was brought to Ahmedabad and killed in a fake encounter which new telecast by about Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS was also false.”
“Realizing out mistake, I offer my unconditional apology to Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS for telecasting such false news about him and sincerely express my regrets for the irreparable, loss, pain and agony caused to him, his family and friends,” Rajdeep Sardesai wrote in the affidavit submitted with the court.
Accordingly, the Metropolitan Sessions Court of Hyderabad accepted the affidavit and dismissed the case against them.