fictional video against Rahul Gandhi on Black and white

News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority: In a complaint by Srinivas Bhadravathi Venkata, National President of Indian Youth Congress against a fictional video which aired on ‘Black and White’ a show by Aaj Tak, defaming Lok Sabha Member Rahul Gandhi, the News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (‘NBDSA’) Chairperson Justice A.K. Sikri (Retired) directed the Aaj Tak to remove the impugned video.

On 25-03-2023, a video was tweeted on the official Twitter (Now X) handle of the Aaj Tak. The video was first telecast on a show called Black and White on 24-03-2023, which is anchored by Addressee

No. 1/ Anchor. The complainant’s submission was that while creating and publishing the video, Aaj Tak violated the journalism norms and ethics by callously publishing the video that wrongly depicted Gandhi as someone accused of robbery. The anchor in the impugned video had failed to ensure the principles of impartiality, objectivity and neutrality in reporting as the contents of the video and the words spoken by the anchor were per se defamatory. It was alleged that the anchor used Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s tweets and created an unmistakable impression to the public that Gandhi was convicted for a heinous offence and that he was quoting Nirav Modi and others as a justification for evading the process of the law. The complainant also alleged that the impugned video was broadcast with an intent to harm Gandhi’s reputation, thereby, targeting the Indian National Congress party’s reputation. The complainant had also submitted that tweets on Aaj Tak’s handle were crafted conspiracy initiated by the political opponents with the sole objective of lowering Gandhi’s reputation in the eyes of the citizens. Thus, the complainant sought deletion of the impugned video from all the platforms and telecast an apology.

The NBDSA perused the footage of the broadcast, showing the impugned video. The NBDSA noted that as both the parties had admitted that the tweets made by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were broadcast accurately by the Aaj Tak. The NBDSA found no violation of the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards, Guidelines issued by it, as the complaint at hand did not meet the threshold of defamation. Regarding the depiction of the story of robber in the impugned video, the NBDSA said that the imputation it carried with it concerning Rahul Gandhi’s conviction, was not in good taste and should have been avoided, hence, the broadcaster was advised to be careful while airing such fictional videos in future broadcasts.

Further, the NBDSA directed the Aaj Tak to remove the impugned video, if it is still available on the channel’s website or YouTube and to remove all hyperlinks including access and that the same shall be confirmed to the NBDSA in writing within 7 days of the said Order.

Re: Order of NBDSA in Complaint (No. 493[O]) dated 31-3-2023 from Srinivas Bhadravathi Venkata, National President of Indian Youth Congress against Aaj Tak for airing a programme on 24-03-2023, Order Dated: 28-02-2024

[Srinivas Bhadravathi Venkata v. TV Today Network (Aaj Tak), Order No. 180 (2024), Order Dated: 28-02-2024]

Image Source: Rahul Gandhi / Facebook

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the complainant: Advocate Kapil Madan

For the broadcaster: Advocate Vrinda Bhandari, Advocate Dipali Rai

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