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More Trouble for Arnab Goswami and Other Television Anchors

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Oct 12: More trouble seems to be awaiting Republic TV and its main anchor and editor Arnab Goswami. After the Mumbai police launched an investigation against it for allegedly bribing some agencies for artificially fattening its Television Rating Points (TRP), Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty has complained to the CBI against it and others for airing “utterly false” news about her while top Bollywood actors and producers filed a civil suit in the Delhi High Court requesting it to restrain Arnab and others from airing and publishing “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks” against Bollywood.

The civil suit in the Delhi High Court was filed on Monday by four Bollywood industry associations and 34 top Bollywood producers which besides Arnab was also directed against Pradeep Bhandari (Republic TV), Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar (of Times Now) and unknown defendants as well as social media platforms. Among the production houses to have filed the petition were Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, Salman Khan Films, Aamir Khan Productions, Ajay Devgun Films, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment.

Rhea Chakraborty, the principal accused in the mysterious death on June 14 of the Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, on Monday wrote a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which was investigating into the actor’s death reportedly by hanging, stating that the allegations of her having met the deceased actor a day before his death was “utterly false.”

In her letter to the team probing the Sushant death case, Rhea, who was granted bail by the Bombay High Court last week in an alleged drug trafficking case,  said Sushant’s neighbour Dimple Thawani made “false and bogus allegations against her knowing them to be false to mislead the investigation” in the case.

“Dimple Thawani, made patently false and bogus allegations against me knowing them to be false, to mislead the investigation in the case. The allegation was that the late Sushant Singh Rajput had dropped me to my residence in his car on June 13, 2020, which is utterly false,” the letter said.

She said the allegations were made on the Republic TV channel “without any basis” and added that she had forwarded a recording of the same to the CBI. Rhea has requested to take cognizance of the same and initiate appropriate action according to the law.

“I was interrogated for more than five days by the CBI in connection with the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. During the investigation, several media channels carried false and bogus stories without any material to substantiate these patently false and fabricated claims in order to achieve their own ends,” the letter said.

“The said conduct makes out a prima facie case punishable under Section 203 (giving false information respecting an offence committed) and 211 (false charge of offence made with the intent to injure) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, one of which is punishable with imprisonment for a minimum of seven years. The said offences are serious and the allegations were made on the Republic TV channel without any basis. I am forwarding a recording of the same,” it added.

The petitioners in their civil suit have urged the court to issue necessary directions to the concerned TV channels and social media platforms to ensure that defamatory comments were not telecast against Bollywood celebrities and a restrain be imposed on conducting media trials on them or interfering with the right to privacy of actors and others associated with the film industry.

The petition also stated that the “defendants abide by the provisions of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all the defamatory content published by them against Bollywood”.

The petition comes in the wake of these news channels reportedly using derogatory words for Bollywood such as “dirt, filth, scum, druggies”, and 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”, “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood,” and such other derogatory remarks targeting the Bollywood and its artistes.