Republic TV on Thursday filed a defamation suit against Times Now anchor Navika Kumar for allegedly making statements about its Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in connection with the WhatsApp chats related to the Television Rating Point scam, Bar & Bench reported.

Republic TV has alleged that Kumar made “reckless” and “grossly defamatory” statements during her show, Newshour, on January 18. In an attempt to change the mind of the people, Kumar accused Goswami of building his success by manipulating the TRP, the plea alleged.

The channel’s petition added:

“By misusing, misconstruing and distorting the documents from the Mumbai Police’s chargesheet in the TRP Scam, mainly the WhatsApp Chats, and without regard to the matter being sub judice both before the lower courts at Mumbai and the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, the Accused Person has gone on a reckless spree to spew grossly defamatory material mentioned below that has been telecast, published, circulated and disseminated on the TV Channel Times Now as well as the internet in various portal such as the YouTube.” 

— Republic TV complaint, Bar and Bench

The plea said that Goswami used to head Times Now before he quit the organisation to start his venture, Republic TV, which became India’s top English news channel. It claimed that Kumar was jealous of Goswami and her statements were a result of such professional jealousy.

“It is in fact for the reason that the complainant company in itself has now gathered attraction that the accused is jealous and the lack of ability of the accused to match the success of the complainant company, has caused this defamatory show to be aired,” the petition alleged.

It also alleged that the Times Now anchor made “rabid and unfounded claims” accusing Goswami of of “endangering national security” and “leaking state secrets”.

The plea also submitted that Kumar did the show because she was “jealous” and lacked the ability to “match the success of Republic TV”, according to Live Law. It alleged that Republic TV has been the target of a “vicious, vindictive and malice driven exercise” by the Maharashtra government and that Kumar intended to further her own corporate interests “as a part of a planned scheme and to take advantage of the ongoing deep-seated malice”, Live Law reported.

Earlier this week, the Republic TV had served a legal notice to The Indian Express for its article reporting that former Chief Executive Officer of Broadcast Audience Research Council Partho Dasgupta said in a written statement to the police that he had allegedly been bribed by Goswami, to manipulate television ratings.

The WhatsApp chats

The WhatsApp chats in question are part of the supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the TRP scam case. It showed that three days before the Balakot strike, Goswami had told Dasgupta, that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”.

Dasgupta told Goswami the attack on Pakistan would give Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “sweeping majority” in the upcoming general election. Months later, Modi surged to a landslide victory in May 2019.

Details from those transcripts – which have not so far been denied by Goswami – also show that Goswami and Dasgupta had extensively discussed Republic TV’s ratings. The messages also seem to show close proximity and coordination between Goswami’s TV channel and BJP leaders including ministers. These include someone named “AS”, as also the “PMO”, presumably the Prime Minister’s Office.

On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out a strike targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in the Pakistani town of Balakot. It was billed as India’s response to an attack on February 14, 2019, in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus.

The purported chats has drawn strong criticism from the Opposition, which has demanded answers from Modi.