Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Trimukhe has filed a criminal defamation complaint against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, senior Executive Editor and his wife Samyabrata Ray, and ARG Outlier Media that runs the channel, Live Law reported on Wednesday.
Trimukhe claimed that one of the shows on Republic TV, during the preliminary inquiry into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, had broadcast content about the police officer and prime suspect Rhea Chakraborty, according to Bar and Bench. The complaint was filed after getting the requisite procedural sanction from the Maharashtra home ministry.
Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 14, in what the police initially said appeared to be a case of suicide. But Rajput’s family filed a complaint with the Bihar Police accusing his former live-in partner, Chakraborty, of abetment of suicide and cheating. Three central agencies – the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Narcotics Control Bureau – took up cases against her.
Chakraborty, who was eventually arrested for allegedly consuming drugs, was granted bail on October 7. Her brother was also arrested in the case and granted bail after three months.
“The instant complaint is being filed by the Public Prosecutor pursuant to the sanction granted to the complainant by the Home Department, Government of Maharashtra,” the complaint said, according to The Times of India.
On January 18, the Bombay High Court had noted that Republic TV and Times Now’s reporting against the Mumbai Police in the Sushant Singh Rajput case was “prima facie contemptuous”, but refrained from taking any action against them. The court noted that trial by media interferes with the police’s criminal investigation.
The bench had also rebuked the lawyers representing Republic TV. “If you become the investigator, prosecutor and the judge, what is the use of us?” it had asked. “Why are we here? Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking public about their opinion on who should be arrested?
The petitioners in the case had urged the court to direct media houses to refrain from reportage that could affect the investigation into the actor’s death. They also sought the framing of guidelines to regulate television and print media, without curbing their freedom. One petition, filed by eight former Indian Police Services officers, had objected to the media’s negative portrayal of the Mumbai Police.
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