A civil court in Bengaluru on Wednesday ruled that Asianet and its subsidiary Suvarna News defamed actor-turned-Congress leader Divya Spandana in two reports in 2013 on a spot-fixing scandal in the IPL.
According to Live Law, the two parties have been ordered to pay damages of Rs 50 lakh to Spandana. Spandana, who was previously MP for Mandya, is currently the head of Congress's social media operations.
Spandana had filed a defamation case against Asianet and its subsidiary after Suvarna News showed still images of her in two reports in May 2013 that claimed some Kannada actresses were involving in betting and spot-fixing in the IPL. Spandana had been brand ambassador for the Royal Challengers Bangalore team then.
While Asianet and Suvarna News had claimed the report made no direct references to Spandana, the civil court found them liable. According to Live Law, the court ruled that Asianet and Suvarna News did not produce records to show Spandana was “involved in betting and spot-fixing scandals”. The court concluded the channels acted in “complete violation of journalistic ethics and deliberately to destroy the popularity of the plaintiff (Spandana).
Spandana also obtained an permanent injunction from the court restraining Suvarna News and Asianet from telecasting any programmes linking her to the spot-fixing scandal.
Reacting to the court's order, Spandana tweeted, “Justice has been delivered and I’m relieved and grateful.”
Interestingly, the Asianet news group is owned by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Chandrasekhar had previously been an independent MP, backed by the BJP. He joined the saffron party formally in 2018.