A TV channel has been directed by a Delhi court to pay Rs 20 lakh damages to three sacked police officials, including former ACP S S Rathi, serving life term in the 1997 Connaught Place shootout case, for harming their reputation by showing defamatory contents.
The court said under the auspices of proclaiming oneself to be an agency aimed at working towards public welfare and good faith, the channel, the show and its producer have made a “mockery of the plaintiffs’ (ex-police officials) reputations indiscriminately”.
The court asked the media house, the show and its producer -cum-director to pay Rs 10 lakh to Rathi and Rs five lakh each to the other twp ex-policemen Anil Kumar and Ashok Singh Rana.
The trio said it was shown during the programme that they had murdered innocent citizens in a cold-blooded manner simply because they (policemen) wanted a promotion and the episode had cast them as brutal and murderous persons.
Regarding Rathi, Additional District Judge Kamini Lau said that not only him but his entire family has suffered due to the vicious campaign against him relating to this incident which was admittedly a case of mistaken identity.
“The plaintiff has given his sweat and blood to the institution, society and country and cannot be condemned for one unfortunate mistake for which he has already been sentenced to life imprisonment.
“The decorated police officer has suffered the legal consequences of this deadly mistake but condemn him and his family forever and to shake the credibility of entire police force is something which is clearly impermissible… All these tend to shake public confidence in institution of the country i.E. Police and these general observations and malicious propaganda should have been avoided,” the court said.
The judgment came on the suits filed by Rathi and the two others seeking damages from the media house and producer for airing the docudrama on the CP shootout by allegedly twisting and distorting facts and causing damage to their reputation.
The channel and others said in their defence that they did not intend to cause any prejudice against the policemen and their sole aim was to create awareness of the actual incidents in the minds of public.
Regarding the producer’s defence that he was not the anchor of the programme and it was anchored by his wife who has died, the court said this argument falls flat as he was the producer, director and script writer as evident from the docudrama placed on record.
( Source – PTI )