Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group has sued NDTV for Rs 10,000 crores in a court in Ahmedabad for its reportage on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Notably, the Reliance Group has filed a lawsuit against NDTV’s weekly show, Truth vs Hype, which aired on September 29. The hearing has been listed for October 26.
During the hearing, NDTV will argue that the charges of defamation are nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt by Anil Ambani’s group to suppress the facts and prevent the media from doing its job – asking questions about a defence deal and seeking answers that are very much in public interest.
Importantly, the top officials of Reliance ignored to appear or comment on the show on what is being widely discussed not just in India but in France as well – whether Anil Ambani’s Reliance was transparently chosen as the partner for Dassault in a deal that saw India buying 36 fighter jets.
Few days before the show ‘Truth vs Hype’ was aired, the role of Reliance appeared to have been questioned by none other than Francois Hollande, who was the president of France when the deal was struck.
The NDTV show reported all sides of the story including Dassault’s denial that it had been under any pressure to select Reliance. In a balanced discussion, the panellists examined whether issues like Reliance’s vast debt and record in defence manufacturing made it a suitable choice for Dassault in India.
Soon after the corruption in Rafale deal was highlighted by the opposition and many other agencies, the Anil Ambani’s Reliance group has come under the scanner.
However, to sue a news company for 10,000 crores in a court in Gujarat on false and frivolous charges, ignoring facts that are widely reported everywhere and not just by NDTV, can only be interpreted as an unsophisticated warning to the media to stop doing its job.
Meanwhile, NDTV has rejected charges of defamation. In a statement, the news channel said, “NDTV has received a show cause notice from the Enforcement Directorate alleging violations of foreign investment rules adding upto 4,000 crores.”
“NDTV rejects any allegations of violating FEMA regulations. NDTV maintains that it is being targeted for its fair and independent journalism and that its persecution is intended to signal to other media that unless they fall in line, they will face similar consequences. Raids on media owners are further evidence of this,” it added.