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The Bangalore City Civil Court last month awarded Kannada actress and former Member of Parliament Divya Spandana damages of Rs. 50 lakh in the defamation suit filed by her against Asianet and its subsidiary channel Suvarna News.
Divya Spandana had filed the suit in 2013 after Suvarna News aired programmes hinting at her involvement in the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting scandal. A programme telecast on May 31, 2013 alleged that two actresses of the Kannada film industry were involved in the spot-fixing and betting scandal that tainted the IPL. Although Spandana was not specifically named, her photos were shown during the programme.
Before the Court, Asianet and Suvarna News contended that there was no direct reference made to Divya Spandana, and there was no loss or damage caused to her.
However, the Court of VII Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge Patil Nagalinganagouda failed to buy the argument. It was also noted though Spandana was a brand ambassador for IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, she did not participate in the 2013 season, as she was campaigning for the Karnataka assembly elections.
After considering various precedents on the issue, the Court held that the telecast would lead to lowering the former MP’s reputation in the minds of right-thinking members of society. While doing so, the Court also berated Asianet and Suvarna News for publishing content having unsubstantiated claims. The judgment reads,
“This Court is of the opinion that act of the defendants is in complete violation of journalistic ethics and deliberately to destroy the popularity of the plaintiff and act of the defendant is mala fide with an intention to defame her dignity.”
Spandana had sought damages of Rs. 10 crore from the channels. However, the Court found it fit to grant damages of Rs. 50 lakh, taking into consideration the status of both the plaintiff and the defendant.
The Court also granted a permanent injunction directing Asianet and Suvarna News not to telecast any programmes linking Spandana to the match fixing/spot fixing scandals without adequate proof.
Divya Spandana was represented by Promod Nair, Partner at Arista Chambers. Asianet and Suvarna News were represented by Poovayya & Co.
Read the judgment: