- NL Sena
Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat, counsel for the family of the eight-year-old Kathua rape victim, on April 18 served a legal notice to Essel Group’s Zee News for broadcasting an allegedly false news report. The report being referred to is an April 17 broadcast, titled “देखें, गैंगरेप पीड़ित के नम पर लाख का चोंदा जमा करने का खेल” that was aired on a Zee News show, DNA.
In its broadcast, Zee News had “aired a false statement made by some Mr Bhatti to the anchor Mr Sudhir Chaudhary, to the effect that my client [Rajawat] had spent the last 2-3 days in Jawaharlal Nehru University (“JNU”) without verifying the material facts to portray my client in a communal light”, the letter stated.
Advocate Sangeeta Madan, representing Rajawat in this case, in a letter addressed to Mayank Aggarwal, senior manager of strategy and planning, at Zee Media Corporation Limited, stated the absence of verification in Zee News’ broadcast. She wrote: “The aforesaid act of your channel Zee News Hindi, which has been done without proper verification of facts, is contrary to the factual position and is in gross breach of journalistic ethics.”
Madan further added: “While my client reiterates that she has never stayed at JNU, she nevertheless firmly believes that there cannot be anything remotely wrong in staying in JNU, if ever she did. Your innuendoes and spreading of communal hatred constituted a threat to her life.” Stating the implications of such reports, Madan wrote, “It is unfortunate that the situation is being politicised and circumstances are being created in which the functioning of the courts and the justice system is being made impossible.”
Rajawat’s counsel also stated that the channel was also countering the good work being done by her client. Following which, Madan made some demands. She called upon the channel to disclose the source of their information, to take down the video, and to issue an appropriate a correction as prominently as the news report.
She also stated, “You are also called upon to broadcast a corrigendum on all your news channels tendering apology for carrying the malicious, false news item full of communal innuendo without proper verification of facts and vilifying my client, failing which legal action may be initiated by my client against you and a complaint will be lodged with the News Broadcasters Association appropriate authorities and in the Court of Law.”
The letter concluded with a notification that Rajawat would not make any statement or give any interviews to the channel, and any conversation will only happen through Madan in writing.