Zee Media Corporation has preferred an appeal before a Division Bench of the Madras High Court against a single judge’s order directing it to answer 17 questions raised by cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a defamation suit filed by him demanding ₹100 crore in damages for having dragged his name in the IPL betting scam.
The original side appeal was listed for admission before the third Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq on Wednesday but the judges adjourned the hearing to Friday. The appellant corporation was aggrieved over an order passed by Justice G. Chandrasekharan on November 11, 2022.
Mr. Dhoni had filed the suit in 2014 against Zee Media Corporation, journalist Sudhir Chaudhary and Indian Police Service officer G. Sampath Kumar. Zee had recently filed its reply to the suit by way of a written statement but the cricketer found the response to be very vague and not answering the specific allegations levelled by him.
Therefore, he took out an application, through Senior Counsel P.R. Raman, seeking the leave of the court to deliver 17 interrogatories to the media house and urged the court to issue summons calling upon the company to give evidence. Justice A.A. Nakkiran of the High Court allowed the cricketer’s application on July 22, 2022.
Immediately, Zee Media took out an application urging the court to set aside the July 22 order. The company accused the cricketer of attempting to know the evidence available against him, even before the commencement of trial in the civil suit, in the guise of issuing the interrogatories and eliciting answers for them.
Justice Chandrasekharan dismissed the media company’s application on November 11 and hence the present appeal. The judge had held that Zee had not made out any ground for setting aside the July 22 order and further observed that it would not be possible for a single judge to set aside another single judge’s order.
The judge also agreed with Mr. Raman that the interrogatories could be set aside only if the court finds them to be unreasonable, vexatious, prolix, oppressive, unnecessary or scandalous. . “None of these grounds exist in this case, for raising objections to the interrogatories or setting aside or striking them out,” the judge had concluded.