After remaining stayed for three long years, the defamation case filed by journalist Vir Sanghvi against Outlook Media Pvt Ltd revolving around conversation in the 2G tapes will see light again with the Delhi High Court setting aside the order of a trial court adjourning the proceedings sine die and further directing that the matter be concluded preferably within a period of one year.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva set aside the June 30, 2014, order of the trial court by which the defamation case proceedings were adjourned sine die since Outlook Media had filed an application that it cannot produce the taped conversation to prove the truth as its defense as the tapes are lying in lock by the orders of the Supreme Court.
It is to be noted that Sanghvi had filed the complaint consequent to a story published in the Magazine Outlook on November 29, 2010. The story purported to extract certain taped conversation allegedly between Sanghvi and certain other individuals.
Sanghvi contended that the extracted conversation was not correct and the alleged tape recordings, relied on by the magazine and also made available on their website, were doctored and tampered. Further, it was contended that the imputations made in the story were false and defamatory.
Relying on the proceedings pending with the Supreme Court, Outlook Media had contended that since the original tapes had been kept by the Supreme Court in a sealed cover, the proceedings were liable to be stayed and adjourned sine die and so they were.
In his petition before the high court, Sanghvi’s counsel Nitya Rama Krishnan and Rahul Kripalani submitted that copies of the recordings kept sealed under lock and key were made available to the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Department of Income Tax and could always be summoned by the respondents (Outlook) in their defense at the appropriate stage.
Justice Sachdeva noted that the premise of the impugned order (adjourning proceedings sine die) is the pendency of the 2G scam case and went on to add that “post the impugned order, the trial of the 2G scam case has already concluded and resulted in a judgment”.
“It may also be noticed that the Supreme Court, by its order 10.02.2011, made available copies of the said recorded conversation, to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Authorities, to facilitate the trial and further by its order dated 16.03.2011 categorically recorded that the investigation which was then being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation, pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court, would not adversely affect or influence adjudication of any other case which may be pending before other court,” he noted.
“In view of the above facts and the changed circumstance that the 2G Scam Case has culminated in a judgment, in my view, the order adjourning the complaint case filed by the petitioner sine die needs to be recalled. Accordingly, the impugned order dated 30.06.2014 is set aside,” Justice Sachdeva ordered.
He also granted liberty to Outlook Media to file an application before the trial court if it wishes to to summon/ produce the recorded conversation, as contained in the said tapes from the Central Bureau of Investigation and/or the Income Tax Authorities, which have been made available copies of the said recording under the orders of the Supreme.
“In case there is any impediment in the respondents seeking production of the said recordings from the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Income Tax Authorities, it would be open to the respondents to approach the Supreme Court for appropriate directions,” he added.
Fixing the matter before the trial court for February 3, 2018, Justice Sachdeva said, “In view of the facts that the proceedings have remained stayed for over three years, the Trial Court is directed to expedite the proceedings and preferably conclude the same within a period of one year”.