Shashi Tharoor and Arnab Goswami today told the Delhi High Court they were willing to step into the witness box to depose in the defamation suit filed by the Congress leader against the journalist and his channel Republic TV.
The statements were made by their counsel before Justice Manmohan, who sought to know whether Tharoor, a senior Congress leader, and Goswami, anchor and managing director of Republic TV, were willing to come before the court to defend themselves.
“Will you (Tharoor) step into the witness box? Your case was that you do not want to speak,” the judge asked the leader’s counsel.
When the same question was posed to Goswami’s counsel Malvika Trivedi, she submitted, “He will also come to depose”.
The queries were posed by the court during framing of issues in the suit. Among the issues framed is whether Tharoor is entitled to compensation in a civil defamation suit filed by him against Goswami and his channel.
Tharoor, Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, had filed the suit against Goswami and Republic TV, claiming damages and compensation of Rs two crore for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news related to the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Among other issues are whether the news reports broadcast by the journalist and his news channel between May 8 and 11, 2017, pertaining to the death of Pushkar were defamatory.
One of the issues framed was whether Tharoor is entitled to the permanent and prohibitory injunction restraining Goswami and his channel from maligning and defaming the Congress leader in any manner.
The court fixed the matter for May 10 for cross-examination of Tharoor by Goswami’s counsel and sent it to the joint registrar to decide whether any defamatory statements were made or telecast by TV channel.
Tharoor, through three different applications, had also sought a direction from the high court to restrain the TV channel from broadcasting any show related to his wife’s death till the probe was completed by the Delhi Police.
The judge had, however, refused to restrain the journalist and his news channel from airing news or debates relating to the mysterious death of Tharoor’s wife. It had, however, said the coverage has to be “tempered and balanced”.
The judge had also held that Tharoor had a “right to silence” under the Constitution and that “no person can be compelled to give testimony or answer questions which may incriminate him”.
Goswami and the channel had contended they have been cautious and never imputed that the Congress leader was guilty.
In his suit, Tharoor claimed the coverage was sensational and aimed at creating a non-existing controversy by maligning his public life and image.
Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a five star hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17, 2014.