The News Broadcasting Standards Authority on Thursday directed three news channels to air an apology on December 17 for their reports on actor Rakul Preet Singh in connection with Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, reported Live Law. The news channels that were asked to air the apology are Zee News, Zee24, and Zee Hindustani.

In September, Singh had filed a plea in the Delhi High Court against unsubstantiated reports linking her with a drug case being investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau. The actor along with industry colleagues Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, and Shraddha Kapoor was summoned in the drugs case related to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

“NBSA observed that these Hashtags/Taglines were very offensive and derogatory and gave an impression that the complainant was definitely a part of the ‘drug circle gang’,” the order read. “NBSA observed that the broadcaster, while telecasting such Hashtags, Taglines, and Images must understand the impression that these create on the viewers and the fact that these Taglines and Images, which have no connection with the news programmes being telecast, cannot be broadcast randomly.”

The broadcasting authority also instructed news channels Times Now, IndiaTV, Aaj Tak, India Today, News Nation, and ABP News to take down the online reports against the actor along with the social media posts of the articles.

On September 29, the Delhi High Court had asked the Centre, the information and broadcasting ministry, the Press Council of India, and the News Broadcasters Association to respond to Singh’s plea. On September 17, the High Court had asked media houses to exercise restraint after the actor filed her petition. The court asked media houses to abide by the provisions of the Programme Code, and other guidelines both statutory and self-regulatory.

Sushant Singh Rajput death coverage

In September, the Bombay High Court 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.