The Delhi High Court today directed Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami to “bring down the rhetoric” and “respect the sanctity of criminal investigation”.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had moved a plea seeking an interim injunction against Goswami to restrain him from broadcasting allegedly defamatory news reports on the 2014 death of Tharoor’s wife, Sunanda Pushkar. The court directed Goswami to exercise restraint, LiveLaw said, until Tharoor’s plea is disposed of.
The single bench of Justice Mukta Gupta noted that the media “can’t be allowed to run a parallel trial or make unsubstantiated claims”.
Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Tharoor and told the court that Goswami “is claiming in his shows that he has no doubts that Sunanda Pushkar was murdered”, even though the chargesheet filed in the case made out no case for murder.
The Court said: “When a case under abetment for suicide is made out in the chargesheet, why are you still saying that murder has been committed? Were you there at the spot, are you an eyewitness? 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 murder? You need to first understand what murder is before claiming that a murder took place.”
The court also told Goswami’s lawyer, Malvika Trivedi, that Goswami and Republic were “not in the field of collecting evidence…have no access to evidence”. “Can the media act as an appellate authority over what is stated in the chargesheet? There’s no gagging of the media but the law also prohibits media trial.”
The court warned of “strict consequences” if its directives are not followed.