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Three leading news dailies of the national capital have been absolved of defamation charges by a Delhi court for reporting an incident about a dowry demand in 1996.

The defamation case was filed against Hindustan Times, Delhi Mid Day and Sandhya Times which had earlier published a news article that blamed a groom for walking out of his marriage as his alleged demand of dowry was not met.

Metropolitan Magistrate Prashant Sharma discharged the then editors of the dailies from the charges of defaming and harming the reputation of the complainant – Colonel (retd)Prem Singh.

Singh had filed the defamation case after publication of reports that he and his son had broken off the engagement as their demand for dowry was not fulfilled by the bride’s family.

“He (Singh) has failed to prove the falsity of the statement published in the newspapers in question and malice on the part of the accused no. 2 to 4 (three newspapers),” the court said adding that Singh was also unable to provide evidence as to how his personal or professional life was affected due to the published article.The bride’s father, S.P. Dabas, was also discharged from the charge of criminal breach of trust.

Singh said the marriage which was scheduled for Nov 26, 1996 was called off after certain facts about the girl came to his family’s notice and were unacceptable to them.

His son also allegedly heard undesirable comments from some boys about the girl and when he asked for clarifications from her, she allegedly answered that she would make them pay a “heavy price” for it.

The court in its final judgment delivered last week of June said that the newspapers attributed the story on observations made by a senior police officer.


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