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Madras High Court Says Media Should Ascertain Truth Before Telecasting Allegations Against Reputed Personalities.

TITLE: Zee Media Corporation Limited Vs. Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Decided On: August 31, 2023.

O.S.A.No.50 of 2023 and C.M.P.No.4661 of 2023

CORAM:  Hon’ble Mr. Justice R. Mahadevan.

Introduction:

In this case the 1st respondent instituted the suit in C.S.No.185 of 2014 against the appellant and the respondents 2 to 4 herein seeking permanent injunction restraining them and their parties from publishing/ republishing, carrying out any reports or articles or telecasts or repeat telecasts or programs or debates or any discussion or reporting or publishing in any other manner, any other matter of any kind directly or indirectly pertaining to the alleged report of the third defendant or any other matter related to the said alleged statement and / or any news content relating to the plaintiff to acts of betting, spot fixing and match fixing of cricket matches or in any manner insinuating about the integrity and honesty of the plaintiff as a cricketer.

Facts:

The appellant a news channel started telecasting and broadcasting news reports that the first respondent herein was involved in the alleged illegal activities of betting, match fixing and spot fixing and further spreading the news that the first respondent was summoned by the Tamil Nadu Police. The first respondent is a cricketer of world repute and a dedicated person who represented our Country at the highest levels of international cricket with sincerity and devotion. When an allegation is made against such an international personality, the News Channel like that of the appellant herein, has to be cautious in telecasting news reports against such person. The truth with regard to the allegations have to be properly ascertained without there being any iota of doubt. In the case on hand, it is to be noted that it is the case of the first respondent/plaintiff that various frivolous and unfounded allegations were made against him that he was involved in betting, match fixing and spot fixing in IPL matches, which are false and without any basis. Justice Mudgal Committee appointed to go into the allegations of betting spot fixing in the Indian Premiere League Matches, has not given any report about the alleged involvement of the first respondent in betting.

Legal Analysis and Decision:

The Judges Considered the materials placed on record in the case they concurred with the specific finding given by the learned Judge that the details / material facts required in the interrogatories are not dealt with in the written statement and further, no ground has been made out by the appellant for setting aside the impugned order. In such view of the matter, interrogatories have to be necessarily answered by the first defendant. The maintainability of the application under Order XI Rule 7 before the learned Judge is concerned, the decision of the learned Judge has to be understood in the scheme of Rule 7, which permits an adversary to take out an application to strike out the interrogatory, if it is unreasonable, vexatious or are prolix, oppressive, unnecessary or scandalous. The learned Judge in para 18 of the Order has clearly considered the scope of Rule 7 and then, held that the application is not maintainable as no ground as permissible under Rule 7 is made out. In view of the same, this ground is misconceived and is hence rejected.

Conclusion:

The Madras High Court dismissed an appeal preferred by the Zee Media against the world reputed Cricketer M.S. Dhoni for making allegations and Publishing or Telecasting without ascertaining the truth on grounds of Non maintainability of the application under Order XI Rule 7 of Cpc.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY JANGAM SHASHIDHAR.

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