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Delhi Court orders Bloomberg to take down article against Zee

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New Delhi | March 1, 2024 11:56:10 PM IST
The Saket Court of Delhi on Friday ordered Bloomberg Television Production Services India Pvt Ltd to take down an article titled "India Regulator Uncovers $241 Million Accounting Issue at Zee" published on February 21, 2024, from its website.

The article claimed that the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had apparently "found a hole of more than $240 million in the accounts of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd".

The Court of Additional Sessions Judge Harjyot Singh Bhalla while passing the order stated that the plaintiff/Zee has made out a prima facie case for passing ad interim ex-parte orders of injunction, balance of convenience is also in favour of plaintiff and against the defendant/Bloomberg and irreparable loss and injury may be caused to the plaintiff, if the injunction as prayed for is not granted.

In view thereof, Bloomberg and its journalists are directed to take down the article dated February 21, 2024, from the online platform within one week of receiving this order.

Bloomberg and its reporters are further restrained from posting, circulating or publishing the aforesaid article in respect of the plaintiff on any online or offline platform till the next date of hearing.

Arguing for ZEEL, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, assisted by Naman Joshi and Guneet Sidhu, contended that the article was completely incorrect and false.

Aggarwal contended that the defamatory article has been published to malign and defame ZEEL's reputation in a premeditated and malafide manner.

In response to a query from the Ld. Judge, Aggarwal stated that no question of truth as a defence could arise as SEBI had not rendered any finding against ZEEL. In fact, in the Article itself, it was stated that SEBI had refused to comment

Zee claimed that the contents of the article directly pertain to the corporate governance and business operations of the plaintiff and speculated that the contents were true.

Consequent to the publication of the article, the company and its investors have suffered economically, inasmuch as, the stock price of the company fell by almost 15 per cent because of the circulation of the defamatory material.

The Bloomberg reporters have earlier also published several articles against the Zee, but the present article has gone to the extent of alleging illegal fund diversion without any basis.

In his arguments, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal showed the Court that the law in India has always valued freedom of speech and expression but not at the cost of the reputation of another and when the two come into conflict, reputation prevails over publication.

Relying on the judgement in Baba Ramdev's case, Aggarwal argued that freedom of speech is not absolute in India, unlike in America and reasonable restrictions could be imposed on it.

In response to a query from the court that individuals and companies cannot be treated similarly when it comes to the reputation of the plaintiff company, which can claim damages against Bloomberg, Aggarwal argued that a company, being a juristic person, is as entitled to a reputation as any individual.

Advocate Aggarwal further contended that companies in fact are equally, if not more deserving, of such protection as loss to a company reverberates across the board to its promoters, employees, vendors, and most importantly, lacs of common people who have invested their hard-earned money in the companies.

In support of Aggarwal's contention, Joshi added that ZEE and its investors have suffered economically, as the stock price of the company fell by almost 15 per cent on account of the Article. (ANI)

 
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