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Rajdeep sardesai
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Rajdeep Sardesai, ors acquitted after issuing unconditional apology for false reporting on Sohrabuddin case

Bar & Bench

Television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai and others were acquitted by a Hyderabad court in November last year after issuing an unconditional apology for false reporting on Sohrabuddin's alleged encounter killing case.

In May 2007, Sardesai, then Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN, had run a program on the Sohrabuddin case titled ’30 Minutes - Sohrabuddin, The Inside Story’.

In the program, the channel claimed that IPS officer Rajiv Trivedi, who was then part of the Hyderabad Special Investigation Team probing the Sohrabuddin case, had provided cars with fake number plates to transport Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi to Ahmedabad, where they were killed in an encounter.

The following was stated in the program:

“Police sources say Vanjara and Pandian nabbed Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi in Bidar with the help from SP Rajiv Trivedi of the Hyderabad Special Investigation Unit…Rajiv Trivedi provided cars with fake number plates in which Sohrabuddin was brought to Ahmadabad and then killed in a fake encounter.”

A complaint was subsequently filed by the State of Andhra Pradesh against Sardesai and ten other reporters of CNN-IBN before a court in Hyderabad. It was alleged before the court that the report had tarnished the reputation of Rajiv Trivedi and was false, fabricated, and defamatory.

The respondents had sought a direction from the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad to quash the case against them, but the plea was dismissed in April 2011. An SLP filed in the Supreme Court against this order was dismissed in May 2015. A plea to transfer the trial in the matter to Noida was also dismissed.

Issuing an unconditional apology to Trivedi, the affidavit filed by Sardesai on November 27 last year states,

“…I realize that there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that Vanzara and Pandian nabbed Sohrabuddin and Kauserbi in Bidar with the help from SP Rajiv Trivedi of Hyderabad, Special Investigation Unit and hence it was a false news telecast about Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS.I further submit that I also realise that there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that Rajiv Trivedi provided cars with fake number plates in which Sohrabuddin was brought to Ahmedabad and then killed in a fake encounter which news telecast by us about Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS was also false.”
Rajdeep Sardesai in his affidavit filed in court

After taking the apology on record, Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad D Hemanth Kumar passed the order of acquittal on the very same day. The order states,

“A1, A2, A5, A10 to A17 filed affidavits by tendering unconditional appology to the complainant and he accepted the same. The same is recorded.

Crl.MP.No. 1782/2019 U/sec. 320(1) of Cr.P.C heard and allowed. Hence, A.1 A.2 A.5 and A10 to A11 are found not guilty for the offence U/sec. 500 of IPC and they are acquitted for the same U/sec. 320(8) of Cr.P.C. The bail bonds if any, shall stands cancelled.”

In December 2018, a Special CBI Court acquitted all the accused in the Sohrabuddin Eencounter case. Judge SJ Sharma observed that there was no substantial evidence to prove the charges of conspiracy and alleged fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati and the murder of Sheikh’s wife Kausar Bi.

An appeal against this verdict is pending before the Bombay High Court.

HT to Twitter user @alok_bhatt

Read the unconditional apology:

Rajdeep Sardesai apology.pdf
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Read the order:

Rajdeep Sardesai order Nov 2019.pdf
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