The Delhi high court on Friday sought response from the TV Today group and 13 others on a civil defamation suit filed by Law Minister Salman Khurshid's wife Louise Khurshid against the media house for airing a programme alleging financial irregularities in a trust run by the couple.
"Issue summons to all defendants. Let the statements be filed in four weeks," Justice Valmiki J Mehta said while hearing the lawsuit in which Louise also sought damages of Rs 1 crore from the media house.
The court, however, declined to pass any order for immediate stay on the repeat telecast of the programme or follow up reports, saying "the prayer for interim order is not pressed at this stage by plaintiff (Louise)."
Appearing for Louise, Senior Advocate Parag Tripathi submitted that at this stage he would like the court to issue notice to the defendants.
The court also sought clarification from the counsel as to whether she filed this suit in her personal capacity or on behalf of the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by them.
"If it is on behalf of the trust, then are other members or office bearers who belongs to trust interested in approaching the court or not?" the court said and asked the counsel to make it clear by the next date of hearing.
The court, which fixed the matter for further hearing on January 30, asked both the parties to file their documents before the Joint Registrar by January 7, 2013.
The court was hearing Louise's plea against TV Today Network, Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, Chairman and Editor Aroon Purie, M J Akbar (Editorial Director of India Today and Headlines Today) Shams Tahir Khan, Rahul Kanwal and Mail Today newspaper.
In her plea, she has said, "pass an order against the defendants restraining them and all their agents, nominees and servants from repeating, publishing, broadcasting, distributing or disseminating in any form or manner whatsoever such defamatory materials referred to in the application and the accompanying suit relating to or arising from, in connection with any alleged acts or behaviour relatable to the plaintiff or the trust."
The plea also said, "pass an order by way of mandatory injunction directing the defendants to render an unconditional apology in writing to the plaintiff as well as telecast the same on the media networks and to withdraw the allegations contained in the story against the plaintiff and/or on her family members and/or the trust."
"Pass and order in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants for the damages to be paid to the tune of Rs 1 crore along with costs to the plaintiff," as per the plea.
A sting operation by the media house alleged that the couple committed financial irregularities during 2009-2010 by siphoning off the funds alloted to Zakir Husain Memorial Trust set up for the benefit of physically challenged people in Uttar Pradesh.
The Khurshids have strongly denied the charges. Louise said the allegations were "devoid of any merit, and is false, malicious and baseless."