On July 5, Congress leader, Shashi Tharoor, filed a criminal defamation suit against Republic News Channel before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Thiruvananthapuram. The Lok Sabha MP has alleged that the channel had aired defamatory coverage of his wife, Sunanda Pushkar’s death case.
Earlier on May 26 this year, Tharoor had also filed a civil defamation suit against Republic and its founder, Arnab Goswami. He sought damages and compensation worth Rs 2 crore on reporting on the Sunanda Pushkar case.
Goswami’s channel had aired what it called an ‘exposé’ with regard to Sunanda’s death. It had played tapes of a conversation between a reporter and Tharoor’s assistant, Narayan, on the night of Pushkar’s death.
Pushkar was found dead in a five-star hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17, 2014.
Tharoor had rubbished the Republic TV report, saying that it was indulging in a publicity stunt to get attention.
While Tharoor has filed both the types of defamation, there exists a difference between the two. In Civil defamation, a fine may be imposed on the person who has defamed the other or compensation must be given to the person defamed.
As per article 499 of IPC, criminal defamation is said to have occurred when a person, makes or publishes anything that is likely to harm or damage the reputation of a person. Whoever defames another is punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.