NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group in a court in Ahmedabad for its reportage on the Rafale fighter jet deal. The hearing has been listed for October 26th and 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.
The lawsuit is filed against NDTV's weekly show, Truth vs Hype, which aired on September 29. Top executives of Reliance ignored repeated, multiple and written requests to appear on the show or comment 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.
Remember that just days before this show 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. The panellists, in a balanced discussion, examined whether issues like Reliance's vast debt and record in defence manufacturing made it a suitable choice for Dassault in India.
As the Rafale deal has become a larger news story in India, the Reliance group has been on a notice-serving spree; 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.
NDTV outright rejects any charges of defamation and will present material in court to support its case. As a news organisation, we are committed to independent and fair journalism that uncovers the truth.
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