The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea filed by Chairman and Managing Director of TV Today, Aroon Purie challenging an order of the Delhi High Court which refused to quash a criminal defamation case against him.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose issued notice today.
The criminal case was filed against Purie in relation to a news item titled 'Mission Misconduct' which was published by India Today magazine in its edition dated April 30, 2007.
Before the High Court, Purie contended that at the time of the publication of the news item, the allegation of sexual harassment and financial irregularity had already been made against the complainant, and steps for disciplinary proceedings had been initiated. The news item, therefore, only reported a fact that was on public record, it was stated.
After the complaint was lodged, the trial court had also passed an order summoning Purie. This order, he had argued, was liable to be quashed on the ground of violation of Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) [mandatory enquiry into where the accused was residing], as well as sections 196(2) [previous sanction of the Central government or of the State government or of the District Magistrate for certain offences] and Section 197 [prosecution of judges and public servants] CrPC.
The respondent, on the other hand, maintained that India Today went ahead with the publication of an "unsubstantiated and unverified defamatory story" which was splashed it all over the world through the medium of internet, without any basis.
The Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna dismissed Purie's plea in April this year, noting in the order,
"...the assertions the news item merely reported facts which were accurate and reflected public records and cannot be held to be defamatory, cannot be accepted. Rather such assertion and who was responsible for its publication and has it came to the fore of editors require critical examination and hence evidence of these issues is required."