More Mediaah!: Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta & Co send notice to Open, Vinod Mehta. Demand Rs 500 cr as damages

By | on 16 May,2012

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

The Indian Express group and four of its senior journalists (including editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta) have sent a legal notice to Open magazine, its editor and other professionals. And above all to Vinod Mehta. The reason: in an interview to Open, Outlook’s Vinod Mehta rubbished the Express expose of a coup-like situation in the Capital.

 

The Express is also upset with the publication of reactions that the interview elicited.

 

I strongly recommend a read of the legal notice (currently posted in a blog that seems to have been created for the purpose — http://nobodyisusingthedword.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/indian-express- shekhar-gupta-threatens-to-sue-vinod-mehta-hartosh-singh-bal-open-magazine-c-repor/ .  Please don’t miss Pages 6 and 7, where the notice highlights a contradiction in Mehta’s statement on how he quit The Independent in the interview (as also made in a speech at the Press Club Bombay awards recently) and his book Lucknow Boy.

 

The lawyer has asked for an apology, removal of the interview from the site and Rs 100 crore each for her clients. Note the money must be remitted even after the publication of the apology.

 

Mediaah! view: I think the Express should’ve just let the interview be (link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/ article/nation/the-mother-of-all-mistakes). I don’t think the interview is damning the reputation of the Express or its editor-in-chief. And even if there is a belief that Vinod Mehta ought not to have said what he did and Open shouldn’t have published it especially since the coup story hasn’t been proven to be wrong, initiating a legal procedure is perhaps a bit much.

 

Moreover, though it has established itself as an independent, gutsy publication, Open isn’t mass-circulated as, say, The Times of India. I must confess that even though I had been told about the interview, I read it only yesterday, after I heard of the notice. There is sure to be a fair bit of buzz in the social networks.

 

I spoke to a senior member of the Open team who said the company lawyer was planning to respond to the notice and the magazine has no plans to pull the story off the Web.

 

Final words: It’s imperative that while the media subjects everyone to criticism, it must be willing to take the heat whenever it’s subjected to it. Now, let’s hope Mediaah! doesn’t get a legal notice for writing all of this :-)

 

Buzz me if you have a story to tell. Confidentiality assured. There are various ways you can reach me:

pradyumanm[at]mxmindia.com, BBM 23050B5D, Gtalk pradyumanm@gmail.com, Twitter @pmahesh and of course the mobile: 98338 76278.

 

Disclaimer: Although he is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of this site, Pradyuman Maheshwari’s views in Mediaah! are not necessarily those of the rest of the team and MxMIndia.com.

 

Post a Comment 
  • d s sarao

    Subject: Yellow Journalism at its Best–

    IT’S A PAPER , IT’S A RAG

    NO- ITS THE INDIAN

    EXPRESS

    (D S SARAO)

    (Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code defines defamation as, ‘whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible, representations makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person, is said except in cases here in after expected, to defame that person)

    1 The Indian Express has done it again. From being a widely circulated and trusted daily, the transition of this popular Newspaper to a rag has been remarkable in that it has been done solely by one individual alone . The garbage being spewed out to get its circulation soaring is an insult to the intelligence of any Indian—and now a personal animus between the erstwhile Army Chief and Shekhar Gupta , the man hell bent on vilifying Gen VK Singh and destroying his own paper, the Indian Express , is out in the open.

    2 First we had the Chief Editor printing in big bold (Yellow) letters , a mandatory requirement for this kind of of journalism, that the Army Chief was about to stage a coup and probably had it not been the early warning given by Indian Express , the Indian Army at the behest of its Chief, would have taken over Parliament House , freed the prisoners in Tihar, stationed Battle Tanks outside the Supreme Court and and arrested the Chief Justice of India. All because his date of birth problem was not being resolved and he was refusing to ‘’go with the wind’’. This had most of the Indian Army , Air Force and the Navy smiling in awe and a few morons from the IB , Raisana Hill , MoD and the Home Ministry scurrying for cover under their dusty desks .

    3 In continuation , we had Indian Express then telling us in a journalistic coup of sorts , that the Army Chief had raised a hush hush intelligence unit , directly under his command (the rest of the Army being under the Pentagon) with the sole function to eves-drop on the conversations of Cabinet Ministers and the PMO—good God!! And to top it all a princely sum of Rs 8 Crores is ‘‘missing’’ from the books of the Technical Support Division , the controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Chief in May 2010. Shades of MOSSAD, CIA, KGB ,MI 5 and our very own IB!!! One man with 4 middle level officers, 30 jawans and some supposedly state of art equipment (which was pretty obsolete) could manage to by-pass the complete chain of command to organise a coup in Delhi, topple a state govt, spy on the PM and others and change the line of succession!!! Lets make VK the PM , all our troubles will finish.One more thing– if there had even been a whiff of financial impropriety pertaining to three public figures , Manmohan Singh , Gen VK and Modi , the media and the political masters would have crucified them long ago.

    4 I am not overly fond of the ex Chief . I too agree with so many other Indians that being in the exalted position of leading one of the finest and largest armies of the world , he could have been more discrete in his spat with the Govt. But now when I see the antics of a doddering and terminally sick establishment along with reports of “published paid news’’ (read INDIAN EXPRESS) and an unethical Editor , combining forces to destroy a man , who rightly or wrongly stood up to what he felt was right –I think it is time for a suitable riposte in the same genre. What Shekhar does not under stand is that an Army Chief is the most powerless man in a military hierarchy. For every thing , including his own guard and ability to have a stable and professionally satisfying tenure , the poor man is totally dependant on the six Army Commanders. It is the Army Commanders who have the guns, missiles , tanks , helicopters and the troops. Excepting for a few men standing with rifles outside his house the Chief is more of a ceremonial head . Try and get these six Army Commanders and the dozen plus Corps Commanders for a flag waving session outside Raisana Hill or the Supreme Court of India and you will understand why this talk of some sort of coup or power play invites psychiatric examination of the person who initiated this canard.

    5 I give credit to the paper and its Editor for perfect timing. His masters would not have been more pleased for getting this ‘breaking news’ just when Modi and the General had shared a dais and had managed to attract the attention of that vast body of Indian ex-servicemen , a potential vote bank so blatantly ignored by the current political masters. So invent a reason where there is none , pass the word around that the General is a dis-honourable man , identify a paper which publishes little or no legitimate well researched news and join forces with an Editor who habitually uses eye-catching headlines to increase sales —–.

    6 Notice how the Indian Express has mastered the art of scurrilous and inflammatory attacks on individuals. ‘Credibility and high intergrity,’ in addition to a persistent sense of inquiry, fairness and professionalism were supposed to be the hallmarks of its editorial leadership. Shekhar , a good editor should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. It is the job of the editor to test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. The duty of the journalists and editors is also to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Deliberate distortion mixed with half truths is the way of mediocre editors hankering for personal gains , recognition and two bits of fame . Shekhar, for the Army Chief to over throw the J & K Govt, the Northern Army Commander , the entire Indian Military intelligence apparatus and most of the ‘Integerated HQs of the MoD (Army), would have to be involved.And we are not including the Marshals and rhe Admirals of the IAF and the Navy.

    7 There is a wonderful book (Editorial Ethics & Logical Fallacies Project) by Michael Roberts, a licensed private investigator and “Internet truth hunter” which details some of the more common fallacious arguments employed by Editors when publishing inaccurate attack pieces. Shekhar , I strongly recommend you go through this piece , it will make you a better man if not a better Editor.

    ‘’…it is amazing how many times lives have been ruined by inaccurate attack articles in newspapers where readers have assumed the assertions to be true simply because they are in black-and-white’’

    PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO A BILLION INDIANS

  • d s sarao

    Subject: Yellow Journalism at its Best–

    IT’S A PAPER , IT’S A RAG

    NO- ITS THE INDIAN

    EXPRESS

    (D S SARAO)

    (Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code defines defamation as, ‘whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible, representations makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person, is said except in cases here in after expected, to defame that person)

    1 The Indian Express has done it again. From being a widely circulated and trusted daily, the transition of this popular Newspaper to a rag has been remarkable in that it has been done solely by one individual alone . The garbage being spewed out to get its circulation soaring is an insult to the intelligence of any Indian—and now a personal animus between the erstwhile Army Chief and Shekhar Gupta , the man hell bent on vilifying Gen VK Singh and destroying his own paper, the Indian Express , is out in the open.

    2 First we had the Chief Editor printing in big bold (Yellow) letters , a mandatory requirement for this kind of of journalism, that the Army Chief was about to stage a coup and probably had it not been the early warning given by Indian Express , the Indian Army at the behest of its Chief, would have taken over Parliament House , freed the prisoners in Tihar, stationed Battle Tanks outside the Supreme Court and and arrested the Chief Justice of India. All because his date of birth problem was not being resolved and he was refusing to ‘’go with the wind’’. This had most of the Indian Army , Air Force and the Navy smiling in awe and a few morons from the IB , Raisana Hill , MoD and the Home Ministry scurrying for cover under their dusty desks .

    3 In continuation , we had Indian Express then telling us in a journalistic coup of sorts , that the Army Chief had raised a hush hush intelligence unit , directly under his command (the rest of the Army being under the Pentagon) with the sole function to eves-drop on the conversations of Cabinet Ministers and the PMO—good God!! And to top it all a princely sum of Rs 8 Crores is ‘‘missing’’ from the books of the Technical Support Division , the controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Chief in May 2010. Shades of MOSSAD, CIA, KGB ,MI 5 and our very own IB!!! One man with 4 middle level officers, 30 jawans and some supposedly state of art equipment (which was pretty obsolete) could manage to by-pass the complete chain of command to organise a coup in Delhi, topple a state govt, spy on the PM and others and change the line of succession!!! Lets make VK the PM , all our troubles will finish.One more thing– if there had even been a whiff of financial impropriety pertaining to three public figures , Manmohan Singh , Gen VK and Modi , the media and the political masters would have crucified them long ago.

    4 I am not overly fond of the ex Chief . I too agree with so many other Indians that being in the exalted position of leading one of the finest and largest armies of the world , he could have been more discrete in his spat with the Govt. But now when I see the antics of a doddering and terminally sick establishment along with reports of “published paid news’’ (read INDIAN EXPRESS) and an unethical Editor , combining forces to destroy a man , who rightly or wrongly stood up to what he felt was right –I think it is time for a suitable riposte in the same genre. What Shekhar does not under stand is that an Army Chief is the most powerless man in a military hierarchy. For every thing , including his own guard and ability to have a stable and professionally satisfying tenure , the poor man is totally dependant on the six Army Commanders. It is the Army Commanders who have the guns, missiles , tanks , helicopters and the troops. Excepting for a few men standing with rifles outside his house the Chief is more of a ceremonial head . Try and get these six Army Commanders and the dozen plus Corps Commanders for a flag waving session outside Raisana Hill or the Supreme Court of India and you will understand why this talk of some sort of coup or power play invites psychiatric examination of the person who initiated this canard.

    5 I give credit to the paper and its Editor for perfect timing. His masters would not have been more pleased for getting this ‘breaking news’ just when Modi and the General had shared a dais and had managed to attract the attention of that vast body of Indian ex-servicemen , a potential vote bank so blatantly ignored by the current political masters. So invent a reason where there is none , pass the word around that the General is a dis-honourable man , identify a paper which publishes little or no legitimate well researched news and join forces with an Editor who habitually uses eye-catching headlines to increase sales —–.

    6 Notice how the Indian Express has mastered the art of scurrilous and inflammatory attacks on individuals. ‘Credibility and high intergrity,’ in addition to a persistent sense of inquiry, fairness and professionalism were supposed to be the hallmarks of its editorial leadership. Shekhar , a good editor should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. It is the job of the editor to test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. The duty of the journalists and editors is also to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Deliberate distortion mixed with half truths is the way of mediocre editors hankering for personal gains , recognition and two bits of fame . Shekhar, for the Army Chief to over throw the J & K Govt, the Northern Army Commander , the entire Indian Military intelligence apparatus and most of the ‘Integerated HQs of the MoD (Army), would have to be involved.And we are not including the Marshals and rhe Admirals of the IAF and the Navy.

    7 There is a wonderful book (Editorial Ethics & Logical Fallacies Project) by Michael Roberts, a licensed private investigator and “Internet truth hunter” which details some of the more common fallacious arguments employed by Editors when publishing inaccurate attack pieces. Shekhar , I strongly recommend you go through this piece , it will make you a better man if not a better Editor.

    ‘’…it is amazing how many times lives have been ruined by inaccurate attack articles in newspapers where readers have assumed the assertions to be true simply because they are in black-and-white’’

    PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO A BILLION INDIANS

  • Anonymous

    The IPC, including Section 499, was written by Lord Macaulay. I know, from personal experience, that law availeth nought in pervasively corrupt India where, even if the magistrate cognizes a patent case of defamation, the High Court will grant stays in violation of clear Supreme Court verdicts, and it will cost a fortune to go against the wealthy and the powerful i.e. the corrupt of India. General V.K. Singh has experienced this directly in the matter of seeking judicial clarity on the matter of his birth.

Today's Top Stories
Videos