Cruise ship drug case: HC refuses relief to Delhi-based businessman alleging media campaign

The court opined that before any interim order is passed, it would examine the guidelines on news reporting by the Centre and News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA).

Published: 07th October 2021 07:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2021 07:25 PM   |  A+A-

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court (Photo | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Thursday refused to grant any interim relief to a Delhi-based businessman alleging a “vicious media campaign” against him by a news company in connection with a drugs case involving the son of a Bollywood actor.

Justice Rekha Palli, hearing the petition by Arjun Jain -- an entrepreneur in the field of entertainment and event management -- nonetheless asked the news channel to strictly abide by the existing guidelines in relation to responsible reporting.

Earlier this month, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) busted a drugs party onboard a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast and arrested Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan and several others.

The court opined that before any interim order is passed, it would examine the guidelines on news reporting by the Centre and News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA).

The judge also remarked that given the “conduct” of the petitioner, she was not inclined to pass any order at this stage.

"I've seen your client's conduct. He has been in custody (before in another case). I'm issuing notice. This is not a case for giving any interim relief," she stated.

"I find some merit in respondent no 3 (news company)'s plea that the petitioner concealed certain confidential information (with respect to his resignation from the directorship of the company who allegedly managed the cruise). I am of the view that before any orders are passed, it is appropriate to examine the guidelines issued by respondents no. 1 (NBDSA) and 2 (Centre)," the court said.

The court sought response from the news company, NBDSA and the central government on the petition which seeks the removal of all allegedly defamatory links and drafting of rules to address reportage of criminal investigations and trials as well as the creation of an emergency grievance redressal system for such reportage.

"Respondent no 3 will act in a responsible manner and follow the guidelines issued by respondent no 1, respondent 2 and the Bombay High Court," the court clarified.

Lawyer Adit S Pujari, representing the petitioner, submitted that the news channel was maligning his client's reputation by suggesting that he was involved in the event leading to the raid by the NCB.

He stated that the news items claimed that he was the mastermind who organised the party and thus prayed that all such defamatory “links” be taken down.

Advocate Hrishikesh Baruah, appearing for the news channel, argued that the petitioner had not come to court with clean hands as he concealed that he used to be associated with M/s Namascray Experience Pvt Ltd, one of the alleged organisers of the cruise.

He also said that news reports either stated the facts or the information received from sources.

Advocate Nisha Bhambhani, representing the NBDSA, said that there were enough guidelines in the form of code of ethics and rules to ensure that there is no sensationalisation of news.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma who appeared along with lawyer Anurag Ahluwalia for the Centre agreed with the stand taken by NBDSA and said that there was a “fully robust regime” in place to deal with the grievances of the petitioner.

In the petition, the petitioner has informed that the news company made “unsubstantiated allegations” that the petitioner was the mastermind who organised the alleged rave party and was an associate director of M/s Namascray Experience Pvt Ltd, one of the alleged organisers of the cruise.

It informed that the petitioner was a mere shareholder possessing 50 per cent shares in M/s Whitefox Pvt. Ltd which is an entity having 30 per cent shares in Namascray.

The matter would be heard next on January 31.



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