On Monday, four leading Bollywood associations and 34 producers filed a lawsuit against Republic TV and Times Now news anchors for “irresponsible reporting by certain media houses” in linkage with the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. Petitions against Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of Republic TV and Times Now, including popular faces Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar, have been filed before the Delhi High Court.
The claimants sought news channels to refrain from “making / publishing inappropriate, derogatory and defamatory statements against Bollywood, its members,” and infringing their privacy, and avoid carrying out media trials against film fraternity without solid proof.
This comes in the wake of the above-mentioned channels using words and expressions for Bollywood such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum” and “druggies”, and expressions such as, “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.
They also prayed that the defendants abide by the provisions of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.
Petitioners in the case include the Producers Guild of India, the Cine and TV Artiste Association, Ad-Labs Films, Aamir Khan Productions, Ajay Devgn Ffilms, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, BSK Network and Entertainment, Cape Of Good Films, Clean Slate Filmz, Dharma Productions, Ashutosh Gowarikaer Productions, Excel Entertainment, Filmkraft Productions, Hope Production, Kabir Khan Films, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, Red Chillies Entertainment, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Pictures, Roy Kapur Productions, Vinod Chopra Films and Vishal Bhardwaj Films, among others.
As per the filmmakers, the channels in question routinely violated the programme code laid down in Section 5 of the 1995 Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and included in Rule 6 of the 1994 Cable Television Network Laws, which regulates the channels owned and controlled by those defendants.
The filmmakers say Bollywood is a “distinct and well-recognised class” that is a huge source of revenue, foreign exchange and employment.
A drug investigation linked to proceedings into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14 targeted the film industry. Stars and their parties have been subjected to scanning, hardly any-holds-barred media scrutiny amid revelations of drug chats on phones.
Times Now Editor-in-Chief Rahul Shivshankar, in response, said cases against his channel’s journalists were “bad precedent”.
“Cases against journalists of Times Now that have only sought justice for those who are wronged are a bad precedent. The mighty may think they can weaken the resolve of the fearless but they are wrong,” he tweeted.