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30 May 2017

Don't call names, HC tells News channel

PTI, New Delhi, May 29 : Journalist Arnab Goswami and Republic TV were today asked by Delhi High Court to "bring down the rhetoric" against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has filed a Rs 2-crore defamation suit against them for alleged slanderous remarks related to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Justice Manmohan said the journalist and the news channel can put out stories stating the facts related to the investigation into Sunanda's death but cannot call the Thiruvananthapuram MP a "criminal".
The court observed that just because Tharoor was not going to the Republic TV show or not giving interviews, it could not be a reason to declare that he was "running away".
A person has a "right to be silent," the judge said on the lack of Tharoor's response and added that "someone has not understood how our law operates".
The observations came as the court issued notices to Goswami and the channel seeking their response to Tharoor's suit. It did not pass any interim order barring the channel from airing news related to the matter but said "whatever the provocation, you cannot call him a criminal masquerading as a politician".
"That is uncalled for and it is presumptive. You cannot use language like this. You cannot call him names. Bring down the rhetoric."
Advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the journalist and the channel, said his clients would place on record the justification for the statements against Tharoor. The court decided to hear the matter next on August 16.
Earlier in the hearing, senior lawyer Salman Khurshid, appearing for Tharoor, said that since the channel was launched on May 6, it has been airing 3-5 hours of shows every day entirely on Sunanda's death and making defamatory statements against the MP.
The channel said it had only aired facts about the probe and claimed it had reports of senior officers that the evidence was not gathered properly and allowed to be tampered with. Khurshid countered saying the police had not said anything.
In his plea, Tharoor says he has suffered humiliation, severe loss of reputation and "has baselessly been declared by the defendants as the alleged murderer of his late wife". Sunanda was found dead in a Delhi five-star hotel room on January 17, 2014.

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