HC refuses to restrain Arnab Goswami from airing Sunanda Pushkar death news

Arnab GoswamiArnab Goswami

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refrained from passing any interim order restraining TV journalist Arnab Goswami and his news channel Republic TV from airing any news or debate in connection with Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar's death case.

Justice Manmohan issued notice to Goswami and the channel and sought their responses on Tharoor's plea to restrain them from allegedly misreporting the contents of court proceedings related to Pushkar's death. The court said the matter required detailed hearing and only after that, a detailed order could be passed on it. It also observed that the Congress leader has not shown any law by which investigation cannot be done by the journalist.

"Show me that after the first date of hearing (May 29), he (Goswami) has called you a murderer," the judge said, adding "I cannot dictate what should be the editorial policy of a news channel".

"Not (any interim order) at this point," the court said and directed Goswami, Republic TV to file their responses with regard to Tharoor's application seeking direction not to make any defamatory publication against him in any manner. The Congress leader has alleged that after the last date of hearing on August 16, the journalist and his channel continued to indulge in misreporting and had broadcast an 8- hour programme on September 4 related to his wife's death.

Tharoor moved a fresh application through advocate Gaurav Gupta in the pending Rs 2 crore civil defamation suit filed against Goswami and the Republic TV for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news on the death of Pushkar.

Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Goswami and the channel, opposed Tharoor's fresh application saying "we have not made any accusations while airing the news." 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.

In their affidavit filed before the high court, the journalist and the channel said they have neither "condemned" Tharoor, nor suggested that he was involved in the death of his wife pushkar. They have have also denied that Tharoor was called "the killer" of his wife by him or the channel, as alleged by the Congress MP.

The politician has alleged that despite assurances given in the court on May 29 by the counsel for Goswami and Republic TV, they were engaged in "defaming and maligning" him. The Congress leader had also sought direction to them that they should not mention the expression "murder of Sunanda Pushkar" anywhere, since it is yet to be established by a competent court whether her death was "murder".

The court had on May 29 said the journalist and his news channel could put out stories stating the facts related to the investigation of Pushkar's death, but could not call the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram a "criminal". It had also told their counsel to reduce the rhetoric.

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