Delhi High Court has directed Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami to tone down the rhetoric and exercise restraint in broadcasting program on the Sunanda Pushkar death case. The court said that Goswami should exercise restrain till the court disposes of Shashi Tharoor’s plea seeking an injunction against alleged defamatory broadcasting.
On 9th September, Republic TV ran a show on Sunanda Pushkar case, saying that they are ‘reopening’ the case.
The court has issued a notice to Goswami seeking a reply. Justice Mukta Gupta said that as the case is still under investigation, the media should refrain itself from running a parallel trial. It is not the media’s job to call someone guilty or make unsubstantiated claims, the court remarked.
#Breaking: Delhi HC directs #ArnabGoswami to comply with his undertaking on “showing restraint and bringing down the rhetoric” while covering #SunandaPushkar case.— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) September 10, 2020
Court was hearing @ShashiTharoor ‘s plea to restraint Goswami from airing defamatory content. @republic
The court has passed the orders after hearing the plea moved by Shashi Tharoor seeking an interim injunction against Arnab Goswami to restrain him from broadcasting any report related to the death of Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar as the case is pending. Tharoor requested the court to order Goswami not to broadcast any defaming show against him.
2017 orders restrained Goswami from broadcasting shows on Sunanda Pushkar case
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Shashi Tharoor. He said that in the charge sheet filed in the Sunanda Pushkar case, there is no mention of the incident being a murder. However, Goswami claimed in his show that there is no doubt that the death of Sunanda Pushkar was a murder. Sibal pointed out that the court had ordered Goswami in 2017 to observe restrain and not to conduct any media trial. However, Goswami continued to broadcast defamatory content against Shashi Tharoor, Sibal alleged.
While considering previous orders, the court said, “‘when a case under abetment to suicide is made out in the charge-sheet, why are you still saying that murder has been committed. Were you there at the spot, are you an eye-witness? You must understand and respect the sanctity of criminal investigation and the various contours of it. Just because there’s a bite mark, it doesn’t amount to murder. Do you even know what constituted a murder? You need first to understand what murder is before claiming that a murder took place.”
Court observed media cannot run parallel trials
Malvika Trivedi, Arnab Goswami’s counsel, said before the court that there is credible evidence based on the statement of an AIIMS doctor. The court asked the counsel if she knows how evidence is collected and appreciated in a criminal trial. The court further added, “There’s no gagging of the media, but the law also prohibits media trial.”
The court said that the agency authorized to conduct an investigation has already filed a charge sheet in which they have prima facie concluded that the case involved abetment to suicide bit, not murder. The court added, ‘Press has to exercise care and caution while reporting criminal matters under the investigation.” While ordering Goswami to exercise restraint, the court added, “this has to be strictly complied with, otherwise consequences will follow.”