New Delhi: As many as 34 top Bollywood producers and four film industry associations Monday filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court, seeking to restrain television channels from making “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks” against the Hindi film industry.
The suit has been filed against Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and journalist Pradeep Bhandari of the channel, and Times Now’s Editor-in-Chief Rahul Shivshankar and its prominent anchor Navika Kumar as respondents.
The production companies include those run by Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar and Ajay Devgn.
They have been assailed for conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with the film industry, in the wake of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and the subsequent arrest of his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty.
“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,” reads the suit filed by the law firm DSK Legal.
“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.”
News channels use objectionable expressions
The Bollywood producers have clarified that they are not seeking a blanket ban on coverage related to the investigation in the Rajput case. They have sought permanent injunction against the respondents “from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws”.
Objections have also been made over the nature of reporting, and publishing details of what the producers described as “parallel private investigations”.
The lawsuit claimed that the respondents were acting as “courts” to condemn people connected with Bollywood as guilty, based on what they claimed was “evidence” found by them. In doing so, the suit further said, the respondents were trying to make a mockery of the criminal justice system.
The producers have also marked their protest against the use of objectionable expressions and phrases in reports shown on the two news channels when they had claimed that a drug cartel operates in the film industry.
Some of the phrases to which the petitioners have taken exception to are “dirt”, “filth”, “scum” and “druggies”. Similarly, 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” have been highlighted as objectionable.
According to the lawsuit, the news channels have been “openly flouting” the Programme Code framed under Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 contained in Rule 6 of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
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