Taking strong note to the unscruplous allegations made by AIMIM chief, Asaduddin Owaisi, Jantakareporter.com has sent him a defamation notice to the tune of Rs 100 crore.
Responding to the legal notice sent by Owaisi on 14 July, jantakareporter.com’s lawyer, Rajeev Yadav, strongly refuted his allegations of defamation.
Jantakareporter.com said that it stood by its decision to carry the letter written by the former BJP MLA, Yatin Oza, to Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal as there was a considerable editorial merit keeping the public interest in mind.
Owaisi was provided the opportunity to confirm or deny the content of the letter, but he chose to ignore the request. However, when he did so through his legal notice to the website, it was published with equal prominence.
You can read the full letter below.
Mr Asaduddin Owaisi,
President, All India Majlis-E-Ittihadul Muslimeen,
Darussalam, Nampally, Hyderabad
This is in response to your letter circulated on social media platform on 14th July, 2016 from the addressee’s personal twitter account.
Jantakareporter.com website was launched on 3 May, 2015 by my client, Mr Rifat Jawaid, with a purpose to provide public-spirited journalism with highest editorial standard and by adopting the best ethics on objectivity.
In little over a year of its existence, the news website has achieved unprecedented recognition and attained popularity among the news consuming public in India and abroad.
One of the reasons behind jantakareporter.com’s success has been its ability to remain fiercely independent without being influenced by any political parties or corporate interests.
Our client Mr Rifat Jawaid’s own credibility of being a journalist with nearly 20 years (12 of which spent working for the BBC across divisions and platforms in senior capacities in England) of high impact journalism has also played a key role in making jantakareporter.com a phenomenon in relatively short time.
1. Our client strongly refutes the allegations of defamation and malice made by you through your counsel in your legal notice.
2. Our client would like to state that the decision to carry the report based on senior advocate of Gujarat High Court and former BJP MLA, Mr Yatin Oza, was taken entirely in public interest. There was a considerable editorial interest in the letter written by Mr Oza, himself a responsible lawyer and a known public figure from Gujarat, to Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, equally a known public representative in the national capital.
3. Our client says that the allegations of your party’s reported secret deal with the BJP have been in public domain for quite some time and the matter has dominated the conversations both on traditional and social media platforms. One such occasion was on 12 November 2014, when media reporting alleged that your party had decided to ‘bail out’ the BJP in the trust vote in Maharashtra assembly. More recently, just before Bihar elections, you and your party were accused of reaching a ‘deal’ by your political rivals. It was, therefore, deemed fit to take a considered editorial judgment in favour of carrying the letter written by Mr Oza to Mr Kejriwal dated 4 July.
4. Our client would like to correct you that jantakareporter.com had merely carried the report and had not implied directly or indirectly that allegations made by Mr Oza were true. Jantakareporter.com also reached out to you on Twitter to seek your reaction promising to provide coverage to your response with equal prominence in the report. Our client says that you chose to ignore the request.
5. Our client now informs that his news website, jantakareporter.com, has wasted no time carrying your response to Mr Oza’s letter, as soon you chose to make them available to the website as part of the said legal notice. This was done in keeping with my client’s assurance to you made on Twitter on 11 July.
6. Our client is extremely pained to note that you, despite being an ’eminent parliamentarian,’ have indulged in defamatory acts against him and the website, jantakareporter.com. Instead of responding to the allegations made by Mr Oza, you began to hurled extremely serious and unfounded allegations that caused irreparable disrepute to him individually and the website, which prides itself in championing objective journalism.
7. Our client takes a dim view of your public allegations describing jantakareporter.com as a mouthpiece of Aam Aadmi Party. On one occasion, you made these allegations in response to Aam Aadmi Party’s Abhinav’s tweet at 3.19 PM on 11 July by saying, “Your mouthpiece will get a notice by my lawyer.”
It was after you had made similar allegation while responding to Abhishek Dhakre at 1.40 pm on the same day. To user Abhishek, you wrote, “… your mouthpiece will get the notice to prove allegations HAPPY.”
You continued to indulge in deliberate and unlawful defamatory acts even on 14 July, when you tagged Delhi chief minister, Mr Arvind Kejriwal and his other aides, flaunting your legal notice sent to jantakareporter.com. This further caused disrepute to our client and lowered his self-esteem in the eyes of public. In one tweet aimed at Mt Kejriwal, you mischievously described our client as the AAP leader’s ‘bhai (brother).’ Your tweet posted at 4.15 PM on 14 July read as follows, “@ArvindKejriwal as promised noticed issued to your both BHAIS think your one Bhai forgets Kanshiram video remind him.”
8. The allegations made by you on a public platform are extremely serious, malicious and mischievous in intent and defamatory in nature and they’ve caused deep pain, anguish and distress to my client and his family while causing damage to their individual reputation and business interests of jantakareporter.com, which is currently seeking financial investments to secure its future. The allegations made by you have been unscrupulous, libelous and in extremely poor taste. Your irresponsible action was also unbecoming of an ’eminent parliamentarian.’
9. Our client wishes to inform you that the same report on Mr Oza’s letter was widely covered by all mainstream media outlets with significantly higher reach, independently. But, you targeting jantakareporter.com by falsely making defamatory allegations on public platform establishes that you had done so deliberately cause pain and distress to our client with an intention to unlawfully harm his individual reputation and his website, jantakareporter.com.
10. Our client would like to remind you that his platform has always championed impartial journalism. In his endeavour to make the platform truly inclusive, it has often provided adequate coverage to all political parties including yours, known as AIMIM.
The following headlines of previously covered reports on AIMIM will corroborate that.
ISIS anti-Islamic, its members are dogs of hell: Asaduddin Owaisi (9 July, 2016 )
What if phone records showed that Dawood was in touch with Asaduddin Owaisi and not Eknath Khadse (10 June, 2016)
NIA’s U-turn on 9 Muslim accused in Malegaon blasts case is a joke: Owaisi (13 April, 2016 )
Owaisi denied permission to hold public meeting in Lucknow (16 March 2016)
In his last speech as Rajya Sabha MP, Javed Akhtar slams Owaisi, Hindutva fanatics (16 March 2016)
Muslims will not succumb to dog whistle politics of Sangh Parivar: Owaisi (24 November 2015)
From Kejriwal to Owaisi, how opposition blamed Modi’s ‘politics of hate’ for Bihar debacle (9 November 2015)
‘Modi is zalim (tyrant) and shaitan (devil)’ : AIMIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi (5 October 2015)
By showing a bearded Muslim’s photo with RSS chief, you’ve insulted all Indian Muslims, Owaisi tells Digvijay Singh (23 September 2015.)
10. In view of the above facts, it’s clear that even though our client or his news platform, jantakareporter, has had no precedence of any biases or malicious intent against you or your political outfit, you acted unlawfully and maliciously with an aim to cause damage to our client, his website and staff working for jantakareporter.com. Since your public allegations, my client, his family members including children and staff of jantakareporter.com have been frequently asked many times seeking clarification on your unlawful and unscrupulous allegations. While the damages caused by your libelous act can’t be quantified in money, our client conservatively estimates the damages and costs at Rs 100 crore.
11. Take notice that unless you withdraw your statements made about our client and his website on Twitter by issuing unconditional public apology within seven days, we will be compelled to initiate criminal and civil defamation cases against you. This will also include seeking to recover the damage, conservatively estimated at Rs 100 crore.
Supreme Court of India