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Bengaluru Court Slaps Rs 50 Lakh-Fine on Asianet & Suvarna News for 'Defaming' Divya Spandana

File photo of Congress leader Divya Spandana.

File photo of Congress leader Divya Spandana.

The court has ordered the defendants to pay Rs 50 lakh in total to Ramya towards damages, within two months.

Bengaluru: A Bengaluru court has asked Asianet News Network and Suvarna News 24x7 to pay Rs 50 lakh to Congress leader Divya Spandana aka Ramya for wrongly linking her to the IPL spot fixing scam in 2013.

The case was filed in September 2013 after Suvarna News aired a report linking Ramya, a former MP, to the infamous IPL spot fixing case. The channel carried a news report on the alleged involvement of some Kannada actress in the case.

Ramya had alleged in her suit that during the publication of various news reports and shows on the matter, her photos and videos were telecast, thereby falsely suggesting that she was linked to the spot fixing case.

Suvarna News 24x7 is a Kannada news channel under the group of Asianet News Network, owned by Rajeev Chandrashekar's Jupiter Capital Ventures.

Ramya was the brand ambassador of IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore from season one to five. The spot fixing case was linked to season six of the IPL. Ramya's counsel told the court that she was not at all actively associated with the sixth season as she busy campaigning for the assembly elections in Karnataka.

The defendants contended that being a media house, they were "entitled to report developments/news relating to public figures and had nowhere made any direct references to the actress and had not caused any damages, while admitting that they had telecast images of various celebrities while only reporting about the claim made by one of the bookie, Mr. Sahu, who said two Kannada actresses were involved".

After hearing both sides and the defendant failing to prove the plaintiff's active involvement in season six or the spot fixing, sessions judge Patil Nagalinganagouda observed that "whatever the program transmitted by the defendants is only imaginary and with an intention to defame the reputation of the plaintiff".

"Once plaintiff demonstrates questioned program is defamatory in nature, the burden of justifying the said program shifts to the defendants who have made the said imputation," the court said.

The court has ordered the defendants to pay Rs 50 lakh to plaintiff Ramya towards damages, within two months and has given a permanent injunction against publishing any news linking her to the IPL spot fixing case without evidence.

"The act of the defendants is in complete violation of the journalistic ethics and deliberately to destroy the popularity of the plaintiff and act of the defendant is mala fide with an intention to defame her dignity," the court said.

When CNN News18 reached out to Suvarna 24x7 Editor-in-Chief Ajit Hanamakkanavar, he said that they have decided to appeal against the order in the high court.