SSR case: Republic TV tells Bombay HC its "impeccable standard of investigative journalism" has helped investigating authorities in past
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SSR case: Republic TV tells Bombay HC its "impeccable standard of investigative journalism" has helped investigating authorities in past

The instances of the channel's coverage of Sheena Bora murder case and the Sunanda Pushkar death case are cited as some of the examples.

Shruti Mahajan

In its affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court in the matter regarding media coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput case, Republic TV has sought to highlight its role in bringing the "truth before the public".

The affidavit comes in response to a PIL which alleged that a media trial is being carried out by news channels under the garb of investigative journalism in the case surrounding the Bollywood actor's death.

Republic TV has called for the dismissal of this PIL, claiming that it is not maintainable. It has also gone on to assert the right of the media to continue its reportage.

The affidavit filed by the CFO of Republic, Sivasubramanian Sundaram, claims that the network and its channels have brought various facts to light concerning the death of the actor and the investigation carried out in the matter. The sworn affidavit says that the role of media has evolved over the period of years from "mechanical reporting of events and facts" to "questioning the conduct and propriety of public figures and state machineries".

It was in furtherance of this role that the Republic Network's channels, which are "of considerable repute in the media fraternity", put forth evidence in the public domain which pointed at loopholes and shortcomings in the investigation that was carried out in the case, the affidavit states.

"...answering Respondent (Republic) has put forth a plethora of evidence of unimpeachable character in relation to the unfortunate demise of Late Sushant Singh Rajput, which point out the grave irregularities which had taken place in the investigation conducted."

Republic has sought to underscore the importance of investigative journalism, and has cited the norms on the same published by the Press Council of India.

The affidavit further states that the "essence of high standards of journalistic conduct" are maintained by the Network's channels while disseminating information.

The network has also batted for its own investigative journalism conducted in the past, which the affidavit avers has helped the investigating authorities. The instances of the channel's coverage of Sheena Bora murder case and the Sunanda Pushkar death case are cited as some of the examples. The affidavit says,

"The answering Respondent's (Republic) investigative journalism and persistent style of its team in asking the right questions has led to the law and order machinery waking up and taking note of the evidence that its investigative journalism has brought into the public domain."

Republic vouches for its own "impeccable standards of journalism" and goes on to cite a number of cases that were very closely followed up by its team.

The right to freedom of the press under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution is also cited. The affidavit states,

"It is a cardinal principle of law that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a free democratic society and guarantees not only dissemination of information and expression of ideas and beliefs that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offended, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society."

Making a case against the direction for delayed coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput case, the network states that such a direction would have a chilling effect on the media and freedom of speech and expression.

The affidavit also adds that the news channel has the right to provide the public with access to true information and this right is complemented with the right of the public to be informed.

The case is scheduled to be heard by a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court on September 10.

Read Affidavit:

Republic TV Affidavit in Bombay HC.pdf
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