Union Minister files defamation complaint against Tamil magazine

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A city court has taken on file a complaint by Union Shipping and Road Transport Minister T.R. Baalu, seeking punishment for the Editor and Managing Editor of a Tamil journal who, he alleged, had defamed him.

The court has posted the case to December 7.

In his complaint filed by counsel A. Balaguru and P. Wilson, Mr. Baalu submitted he commanded "a remarkable and unassailable reputation in the estimation of the public." The Junior Vikatan, in its October 23, 2005 issue, published a defamatory news item under the caption "Mulaividuthu Moondravathu Goshti." It was published with his photograph with the object of tarnishing his political image and lowering his reputation.

He said when a lawyer's notice was sent to the accused, they published a news item under a "misleading caption Aathaaramattrathu." A notice, calling upon the two to furnish the names of the persons who provided the information was sent, but they did not comply. They only said that their correspondent had sent the news. No reply was received for the notice.

The journal sent a letter to him enclosing a photocopy of the news item. The accused did not tender any unconditional apology in the letter or news item. The expression of regret was not personally tendered to him. He said the accused had committed offence under sections 500, 501, 502 and 212 IPC.

Mr. Baalu said the journal had published news items in August 2004 to "maliciously and intentionally" denigrate his image. When a lawyer's notice was issued, a news item was published in the "Kazhugaar Paguthi" without publishing a separate letter of apology. Enclosing a cutting of the news item, the Editor sent a letter mentioning that the complainant's objection was published with due importance and that regrets had been expressed. But the news item or letter did not contain any regret or unconditional apology.

Later, in the name of the Editor, a news item under the caption "Ulnokkam Illai" was published and a letter enclosing the item copy was sent to the complainant.