Actor Kangana Ranaut’s advocates have sent a legal notice to the Press Club of India and the Entertainment Journalists’ Guild for lending their support to a journalist with whom Ranaut had an argument at a promotional event for her upcoming film Judgementall Hai Kya in Mumbai last Sunday. The organisations had called for a media boycott of the actor.
In the notice, dated July 12, the legal firm Siddiquee and Associates claimed neither the Press Club of India nor the guild had any legal standing, authority or discretion to boycott Ranaut. The firm said the actions of the journalists’ associations were “wrongful, immoral, unethical and illegal”. The lawyers alleged PTI reporter Justin Rao, with whom Ranaut had the argument, had indulged in “unprofessional and illegal activities by intentionally violating Norms of Journalistic Conduct and various other provisions of Press Council of India Act, 1978, by openly ridiculing. insulting, annoying, criminally intimidating and defaming” the actor.
The law firm claimed the Entertainment Journalists’ Guild was an unregistered organisation and did not have any legal status. The Press Club of India was established to be a meeting point for journalists, it added.
“That you addressees (which can only be recognised through its journalist members) cannot deny the fact that your said members by virtue of being journalists should neither contravene the provisions of the Press council of India Act, 1978, or the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ nor can you extend any support whether directly or indirectly to such person who are prima facie guilty of professional misconduct coupled with criminal wrong,” read the notice.
It mentioned the list of norms and guidelines under which each member of both the journalist associations were allegedly guilty of harassing Ranaut.
The law firm warned both the associations to rectify their alleged mistakes within 24 hours before Ranaut “is constrained to initiate strict proceedings and other actions including seeking huge compensatory (monetary) damages from you...”
Earlier on Friday, the Press Club of India backed the decision of the Entertainment Journalists’ Guild to boycott Ranaut. They criticised Ranaut for describing journalists as “pseudo-liberals” and “termites”. In her statement on Thursday, the actor had accused Justin Rao of making fun of her on social media in the past.
“We the Press Club of India are aghast, anguished and shocked at the incident involving an actress of Bollywood using uncivilised, uncultured, filthy and abusive language against the media persons,” the organisation said. “We condemn it in the strongest possible words. This behaviour and hurling abuses towards journalists is unacceptable”.
The Mumbai Press Club also condemned Ranaut’s behaviour. “The Entertainment Journalists’ Guild, which first raised the issue, has pointed out that this is not the first time Ms Ranaut and her manager-sister have insulted and abused journalists,” it said. “It has become part of their unprofessional conduct.”
While Judgementall Hai Kya producer Ekta Kapoor has apologised for the incident, Ranaut has refused to do so.
How it all started
At the promotion event on July 7, Ranaut accused Justin Rao of running a “smear campaign” against her after her film Manikarnika. She made the claim just as Rao was starting to ask her a question. Her remarks led to an argument between the two.
Ranaut alleged that Rao had harmed her brand despite spending three hours with her in her vanity van and having lunch with her. The actor claimed Rao had called her jingoistic in his articles. Rao, however, claimed that he met Ranaut briefly for an interview, did not have lunch, and had not sent her any personal messages. Ranaut then accused Rao of turning the argument into one about “star versus journalist”.
Correction and clarification: The headline of the article had earlier stated incorrectly that Kangana Ranaut had asked the Press Club of India and the Entertainment Journalists’ Guild to withdraw the media boycott. It has been modified.