A Delhi-based lawyer has sent a legal notice of defamation to India Today chairman and editor-in-chief Aroon Purie on Monday, for their TV channel’s ‘insensitive’ coverage of the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The case was filed by a practising advocate from Delhi High Court, Mohit Singh.
On Sunday, 34-year-old Sushant Singh Rajput of MS Dhoni: An Untold Story fame, died by suicide at his home in Bandra, Mumbai. In the film, which was a biopic of the former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sushant played the role of Dhoni.
https://bfbb32e2a534551bc392723f4fb63355.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html While reporting the news about the actor’s shocking demise, Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, which belongs to the India Today group, had flashed a news ticker which allegedly read: “How did he ‘hitwicket’?” alluding to his role as Dhoni.
LiveLaw.in quoted the lawyer Mohit’s notice as saying, “”By this comment Aaj Tak has insinuated that the death of Mr. Sushant by suicide is equivalent to that of a batsman in cricket who breaks his own wicket with his bat or any part of his person while playing the ball or setting off for a run. The careless use of such language portrays that the news channel. Aaj Tak with its high viewership has shed its responsibility towards the Indian masses.”
Mohit said that the channel’s reportage was ‘speculative,’ ‘uncorroborated’ and ‘cast aspersions on the actor’s integrity’. He also added that the ‘negligent’ reporting also normalized the act of suicide. Such acts constitute an offence of defamation, punishable under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, Mohit said.
The lawyer has asked the India Today group to issue an unconditional apology for their coverage of the actor’s death, failing which he would take legal action against them.
“The said apology should include that you take full responsibility of the mistake committed by your channel and the news of suicide is a mere comment by the police and that the post-mortem report is awaited,” the notice reads.
A similar headline was also allegedly made by another Hindi news channel, Zee News, which ran a news segment on ‘Taal Thok Ke’ with the headline: “How did the cinema Dhoni get ‘out’ in real life?”
Shortly after this, both TV networks faced severe flak from Twitter users for the insensitive reportage, with #ShameOnAajTak and #ShameOnZee News trending on Twitter.