The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with a Mumbai high court's order under which Times Now news channel has been asked to deposit Rs 20 crore in cash and to give a bank guarantee of Rs 80 crore, before its appeal against a trial court award of damages of Rs 100 crore to former apex court judge P B Sawant, could be heard.
Justice Sawant had sued the news channel for displaying his photo wrongly during the telecast of a news bulletin on September 10, 2008 on a Provident Fund scam allegedly involving a Calcutta high court judge. The report had mistakenly showed Justice Sawant's photograph.
On a defamation suit by Justice Sawant, the Pune district court had ordered the company to pay him Rs 100 crore as damages.
An apex court bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi refused to grant any relief to Times Global Broadcasting Company Ltd, the firm which owns the TV news channel, saying there is no error in the high court's interim order.
"We find no reason to interfere with the high court's order directing the petitioner to deposit Rs 20 crore and furnish a bank guarantee for the remaining Rs 80 crore (with it)," the bench said.
The broadcaster had approached the apex court against the September 2011 order of the Bombay high court, asking it to deposit the sum of Rs 100 crore as a pre-condition to hear its appeal against the trial court's verdict.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the media group, submitted that there are serious questions arising out of the high court's order and it should be stayed.
The bench dismissed his plea but clarified that the high court would not get influenced with today's proceedings in the apex court and would decide the case on its merits.
Times Global Broadcasting Company Ltd, the firm which owns the TV news channel, had maintained that it had already apologised to Justice Sawant in its news scroll for five days in 2008 and was therefore not liable to pay damages.