No error in High Court order on cash deposit, guarantee: Supreme Court

In a setback to Times Now television channel, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with an interim order of the Bombay High Court that directed the Times Global Broadcasting Co. Ltd. to deposit Rs. 20 crore in cash and Rs. 80 crore as bank guarantee in the court in a defamation suit filed by the former Supreme Court judge, P.B. Sawant, claiming Rs. 100 crore as damages.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya said: “there is no error in the High Court's interim order. We find no reason to interfere with the order.”

Appearing for Times Global, senior advocate Harish Salve said there were serious questions arising out of the High Court order and it should be stayed. There was no evidence to show that anyone was misled by showing the wrong photograph. The court should go into whether showing a wrong photograph would amount to defamation and how the amount of Rs. 100 crore was quantified.

The Bench, however, dismissed his plea, but clarified that the High Court would not be influenced by Monday's proceedings and would decide the case on merits.

Times Global company runs 24-hour English News channel Times Now, and is a sister concern of Bennett, Coleman & Co, which publishes The Times of India.

It had appealed to the High Court against a Pune district court order directing the company to pay Justice Sawant Rs. 100 crore by way of unliquidated exemplary damages.

Justice Sawant, a former chairman of the Press Council of India, had sued Times Now in a Pune civil court for wrongly displaying his photo in a provident fund scam-related news report. The “provident fund scam” report was shown allegedly involving the then sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court, Justice P.K. Samanta, but it ran the photo of Justice Sawant on September 10, 2008 in its 6.30 p.m. news bulletin.

The Pune court passed a decree directing the channel to pay Rs. 100 crore as damages.

On an appeal from the company, the High Court directed it to deposit Rs. 20 crore in cash and Rs. 80 crore by way of bank guarantee. The present appeal is directed against that order.

The channel sought the quashing of the impugned order and an interim stay of its operation.

RELATED NEWS

Do not constrain media, says Editors Guild November 15, 2011

More In: National | News