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Friday, April 17, 2015

Tamil actress wins defamation case - awarded Rs.10 lakhs by Court

A decade and few years ago, Veerappan was continuously in news – the forest brigand, the ivory smuggler roamed 3,600 square miles of raw jungle, and hunted down thousands of elephants for their tusks, and later turned to the even more lucrative contraband trade in rare sandalwood from south India's jungles. He was wanted for long and a big manhunt was on; many police officers too lost their office.

Calumny, Slander, libel, vilification, traducement – better known as ‘defamation’ – is the communication that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual but may give an individual or a Company – a negative image.  This is a serious offence in Western World.  This would include disparaging remarks of some one published or stated.   In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images.   Understand that in US, the person must first prove that the statement was false and then that the statement caused harm.  The person proving libel would also be required to prove that the statement was made without adequate truthfulness. 

Sukanya is a South Indian actress, singer, music composer, Bharatanatyam danseuse and voice actor. She has acted in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu movies, and one of the main stream heroine from 1991 to 1997 – remember her role in Chinna Gounder,  Walter Vetrivel and later in Índian’as the wife of older Kamal.

Today, she is in news – Times of India reports that 19 years after a TV channel broadcast an interview in which sandal wood smuggler and forest brigand Veerappan made derogatory re marks on actor Sukanya, a city court awarded her compensation of Rs.10 lakh. Sukanya, who won the state best actress award in 1992 and carved out a career as a popular actress moved the Madras high court claiming damages from Sun TV , Veerappan and `Nakkeeran' editor `Nakkeeran' R Gopal over an interview that the TV channel broadcast on April 7, 1996.

Siva Subramanian, a reporter with `Nakkeeran', a Tamil bi-weekly , contacted and interviewed Veerappan in 1996, when the dreaded criminal had successfully defied the governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and paramilitary forces to impose a reign of terror . Veerappan made several controversial claims and scandalous allegations in the interview, including that AIADMK, the ruling party at the time, had forced him to smuggle sandalwood and also cast aspersions on Sukanya's character. Sun TV telecast the interview in half-hour episodes.

Sukanya,  filed a defamation case in a city court, which transferred her petition to the fast track court at Singaravelar Maligai, the collector's office, in Chennai.

The case, after pending in court for more than 15 years, picked up momentum in 2013. During the proceedings, Gopal's counsels P T Perumal and L Sivakumar said `Nakkeeran' provided video footage of the interview to Sun TV according to the terms of an agreement between the magazine and the TV channel. The TV channel broadcast the interview, the counsels said, so their client was not liable to pay damages.

Judge P Chandrasekaran, while acquitting Gopal, on Wednesday directed Sun TV to pay Rs.10,00,500 to Sukanya.

 ‘libel’ (n) -  to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Libel is the written or broadcast form of defamation, distinguished from slander, which is oral defamation.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Apr 2015

News source : Times of India :

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