Top Bollywood filmmakers and producers on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against “irresponsible reporting by certain media houses”, reported Bar and Bench. It comes in the wake of the media reports around the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

The lawsuit was filed against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of the channel; and Times Now and its prominent anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar.

The plaintiffs include four film industry associations and 34 producers, including The Producers Guild of India. The Producers Guild of India has around 130 members, including Bollywood’s leading studios, broadcasters and streaming platforms. The list covers virtually every major family-owned banner, privately held company and corporate studio in the Hindi film industry.

The actors who have set up film production companies in their names and who are among the plaintiffs include Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. The well-known filmmakers who are guild members are Rohit Shetty, Kabir Khan, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Rakesh Roshan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Ritesh Sidhwani, Sajid Nadiadwala, Luv Ranjan, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vishal Bhardwaj, Zoya Akhtar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Abhishek Chaubey.

The corporate studio Reliance Entertainment, which will release two big-budget films, Sooryavanshi and ’83, in the coming months, is also part of the lawsuit.

Among the prominent names missing from the list is Ronnie Screwvala Productions. Screwvala is producing the upcoming movie ‘Tejas’, starring Kangana Ranaut as an Indian Air Force fighter pilot. Ranaut has frequently attacked many of the actors and filmmakers who are a part of the civil suit.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have asked that the channels as well as social media platforms to “refrain from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood and its members”. It pointed out that both Republic TV and Times Now have used “highly derogatory” words for Bollywood such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.

“The plaintiffs are not seeking a blanket gag order against media reportage of the investigation in the cases relating to the death of Mr. Sushant Singh Rajput or of FIRs No. 15 and 16/2020 filed by the NCB [Narcotics Control Bureau], Mumbai,” read a press release shared with “The Plaintiffs are merely seeking perpetual and mandatory injunction against the Defendants from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws.”

On September 17, the Delhi High Court had directed media houses to exercise restraint after actor Rakul Preet Singh filed a petition against unsubstantiated reports linking her with a drug case, in which Rhea Chakraborty is a prime accused. Singh had argued that media reports are being run in contravention with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting guidelines.

Sushant Singh Rajput death coverage

Last month, the Bombay High Court had told the Centre that it was “surprised” that there was no provision for a statutory body to regulate electronic media. The court made the observation while hearing petitions challenging the media trial in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

Before that, the Press Council of India had advised media organisations to adhere to journalistic standards, refrain from sensational reporting and not conduct a parallel trial in the investigation into Rajput’s death. The Network of Women in Media had also criticised media houses for targeting Rhea Chakraborty and said investigating authorities should be allowed to do their job fairly.