The Delhi high court on Monday extended its interim order asking media houses AGR Outlier Media Pvt Ltd and Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd to ensure that no defamatory content will be uploaded on social media platforms or displayed on their channels.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who was hearing a plea by Bollywood producers seeking to restrain them from making irresponsible remarks, listed the matter before the Joint registrar for January 18 for completion of pleadings and admission/denial of documents.
“In the meantime, interim order of November 9 to continue,” the judge said and fixed the suit for hearing before himself on March 23.
The high court, which was informed that the media houses and other parties, including intermediaries, have their replies to the suit, granted three weeks time to the Bollywood producers to file replication to the responses.
It had earlier sought replies of Republic TV, its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and reporter Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar and group editor Navika Kumar, and intermediaries Google, Facebook and Twitter on the leading Bollywood producers' plea.
The lawsuit by four Bollywood industry associations and thirty-four leading producers, including those owned by Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Rohit Shetty, as also Yash Raj Films and R S Entertainment, has also sought that the channels be restrained from interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with the industry.
During the Monday's hearing, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing the producers, said if the media houses are agreeable to the court's earlier order that they will ensure that no defamatory content is uploaded on the social media platforms administered by them or is displayed/broadcast on their respective news channels, the suit can be disposed of.
The submission was opposed by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, representing the Bennett Coleman Group, who said they were not agreeable to the suggestion and are challenging the maintainability of the suit.
The high court was earlier assured by the counsel for the media houses that they will follow the programme code and the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act.
It had questioned the plaintiffs for not making individual celebrities parties in the suit and they are being represented through associations.
To this, the counsel for the producers had submitted that the celebrities are members of the associations and he would take instructions on making them individual parties.
Observing that people are afraid of the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, because of its powers, the high court had said Princess Diana died while racing away from the media and recalled the black and white Doordarshan era to be much better.
The suit has said, “This comes in the wake of these channels using highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood such as 'dirt', 'filth', 'scum', 'druggies' and expressions such as 'it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned'... and 'cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood'.”
Those who have filed the suit are The Film and Television Producers Guild Of India, The Cine and TV Artistes' Association, Indian Film and TV Producers Council, Screenwriters Association, Aamir Khan Productions, Ad-Labs Films, Ajay Devgn Films,Andolan Films, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions, BSK Network and Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Clean Slate Filmz and Dharma Productions.
The list includes Emmay Entertainment and Motion Pictures, Excel Entertainment, Filmkraft Productions, Hope Production, Kabir Khan Films, Luv Films, Macguffin Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, One India Stories, R.S. Entertainment (Ramesh Sippy Entertainment), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, Red Chillies Entertainment, Reel Life Productions, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Picturez.
The other plaintiffs are Roy Kapur Films, Salman Khan Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Sohail Khan Productions, Tiger Baby Digital, Vinod Chopra Films, Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures and Yashraj Films.
In the plea, the producers have sought that the defendants (media persons) shall take down all the defamatory content published by them against the film industry.
It claimed that the privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire industry as “criminals seeped in drug culture”.