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As a counter to the 'Bollywood drugs mafia' reportage being carried on Republic TV and Times Now, 38 producers have filed a suit in the Delhi High Court seeking to curb the irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks being made against the film industry.
The suit singles out Republic's Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari and Times Now's Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar for conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood.
The producers have taken exception to the phrases being used by these reporters to describe a so-called drug cartel operating in the film industry in the wake of Sushant Singh Rajput's death. These phrases include, “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “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”.
Filed by DSK Legal, the suit states,
"The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the Defendants. This is in addition to the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in extreme revenues and work opportunity loss. The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination."
It is pointed out that these reporters have previously been penalized and reprimanded and have had orders passed against them by courts for irresponsible reportage and defamatory content. Further, they have previously been found guilty of broadcasting incorrect news, the producers claim.
Moreover, it is alleged that these news channels have been "openly flouting" the Programme Code framed under Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 contained in Rule 6 of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
"These Defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as “courts” to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is “evidence” found by them, thereby trying to make a mockery of the criminal justice system."
The producers make it clear that they are not seeking a blanket ban on coverage related to the investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. They have sought permanent injunctions against Goswami, Shivshankar & co "from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws".