Delhi High Court on Friday told Republic TV’s founder, Arnab Goswami, to respect the Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor’s right to silence on the ongoing investigation in his wife, Sunanda Pushkar’s death.
The court also sought Republic TV’s reply on Shashi Tharoor’s plea to stop them from ‘misreporting’ Pushkar’s case.
Goswami had deployed several of his representatives carrying cameras and microphones on Wednesday to conduct what appeared to be like ‘raid’ on Tharoor as he prepared to address the media on the formation of new wing in the Congress party.
As expected, the Congress party refused them entry. This enraged the representatives of Arnab Goswami to stage a protest outside the office of the Congress party while holding placards.
Justice Manmohan issued notice to Goswami and Republic TV after Tharoor alleged that they continued to engage in “defaming and maligning” him despite an assurance given in the court on May 29 by their counsel.
Taking note of this, the bench said, “You (Goswami and the channel) have to respect Tharoors right to silence.”
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Tharoor, submitted that the court must direct Goswami and the channel to not mention the expression “murder of Sunanda Pushkar”, as it is yet to be established by a competent court that her death was “murder”, to ensure the trial was not prejudiced.
Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Goswami and the channel, said they have only placed the actual evidence and the police report while broadcasting the news.
“We have not called him a murderer in any of the news broadcasts on the channel (Republic channel),” Sethi said.
The judge, however, said orally that he had asked the counsel who had assured that names would not be taken. “They will have to abide by that,” the judge said.
Advocate Sethi replied, “My client stands by what was assured by me.” The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on August 16.
The court was hearing an application moved by Tharoor in his pending Rs 2 crore defamation suit against Goswami and the channel for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news relating to the mysterious death of his wife. Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a five-star hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17, 2014. The matter is still under investigation.
Goswami has become a subject of ridicule for his alleged role in denigrating the profession of journalism in India. Many have begun terming him as a former journalist because of his ‘brazen’ attempt to push the pro-RSS agenda from his channel, Republic TV.
Goswami, a former journalist, launched Republic TV with the financial support from the NDA MP, Rajeec Chandrsekhar and known BJP sympathiser, Mohandas Pai. Since its launch, the channel has been engaged in carrying out a sustained campaign against non-BJP parties, who are in opposition.