The India Today group, which runs the news channels India Today and Aaj Tak, has been by Mohit Singh, a lawyer in Delhi, for its coverage of the alleged suicide of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput on Sunday.
The subject of the notice is a ticker that Aaj Tak ran late Sunday evening. “Aise kaise ‘hit wicket’ ho gaye Sushant?” the ticker read, referring to a way in cricket of . How did Sushant get ‘hit wicket’?
The notice, addressed to India Today group’s chairman and editor-in-chief Aroon Purie, states: “The careless use of such language portrays that the news channel, Aaj Tak, with its high viewership, has shed its responsibility towards the Indian masses and has reached a stage where it considers it right to demean the loss of an individual who had gained a fandom by his work and whose loss has sent a wave of shock throughout this country."
The notice accuses the channel of “negligently commenting” on a critical event, adding that its coverage “normalised the act of suicide” and imputed that it was an “act of cowardice”.
Singh further accuses Aaj Tak and Purie of spreading misinformation about mental health issues in India.
He argues that the specific ticker amounts to defamation under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code which is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Singh describes the ‘hit wicket’ ticker as “very, very bad” and “heartbreaking”. “I dispatched the notice through speed post and I’m expecting them to issue an apology, nothing more,” he says.
Singh’s notice demands an “unconditional public apology” from Purie, who must take “full responsibility for the mistake committed” by Aaj Tak. Purie, the notice adds, should also clarify that the news of Rajput’s suicide is a “mere comment” by the police and that the postmortem report has not been released.
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