Vijayawada: The political war between YSRCP and TDP has prompted the latter to seek legal action against the vernacular news daily-Sakshi, which is owned by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Annoyed with a report published in the daily, TDP National General Secretary Nara Lokesh has filed a defamation suit of Rs.75 crore, against Jagathi Publications in the 12th additional district court in Visakhapatnam, with Original Suit number: 6/2020. Lokesh has mentioned in his suit that Sakshi daily has published a story headlined “Chinababu Chirutindi 25 Lakhalandi (Lokesh’s snacks cost Rs.25 lakh)”, on October 22, 2019, which is far from the truth.
His advocates have sent a legal notice to Jagathi Publications on October 25, and in turn Sakshi has sent a reply on November 10. Not satisfied with their reply, Lokesh has decided to file a defamation suit.
As the news story was aimed at tarnishing his image, Lokesh has filed defamation suit against Sakshi Editor V Murali, reporters B Venkata Reddy and Garikapati Umakanth.
“As part of their intention and strategy, in October 2019 a news item was published by the defendants in Visakhapatnam city edition with a heading on the first page as “China Babu Chiru Thindi Rs.25 Lakshalandi” with false and detailed news item in 3rd page leveling baseless allegations against the TDP National General Secretary,” Lokesh advocates have mentioned in the suit.
In the same news item, the daily has also published a photo showing as if the plaintiff is eating snacks and also furnished a bill number, date of the Bill and also the alleged expenditure incurred on Lokesh. Out of twenty-six items, on twenty-six dates, the plaintiff was not at all at Visakhapatnam except on November 18, 2017.Therefore, the question of expenditure being incurred by Lokesh is absolutely false besides being incorrect and far from truth, according to his advocates.
The daily, without verifying the truth has attributed the total expenditure to the plaintiff as if the plaintiff is solely responsible for the Rs.25 lakh bill. In fact, out of twenty-six bills which the daily has furnished in a tabular format, Lokesh was not in Visakhapatnam except on November 18, according to advocates.
“ Whenever VIPs, VVIPs, foreign dignitaries or other Central Government or State Government officials arrive at the airport they are entitled to take either snacks or lunch and also dinner according to the time of their visit. Vouchers are raised immediately and the same will be signed by the Protocol Officers and the Protocol officers will immediately take a copy of the voucher,” the advocates stated. The Confederation of Indian Industry Partnership Summit 2017 was held in Visakhapatnam on January 27 and 28. Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh Ag-Tech Summit 2017 was held at the Port City from November 15 to 17, 2017. During those two summits, a number of dignitaries happened to visit Visakhapatnam airport and were received by Protocol officers.
Meanwhile, on the day the first Summit was held, Lokesh was not even an MLC and nor was he a Minister. Therefore, there is no question of any protocol and he did not even attend the Summit even in his individual capacity, the advocates maintained. It was published only with the sole object of defaming the image of Lokesh, the advocates stated and added that the photo which was also published along with the news item as intended by the defendants shows that Lokesh was more interested in eating.
In their reply, Jagathi Publications stated that Lokesh had misunderstood the content.
“ As against the spirit of the news item, in the reply notice, it was contended that the news item does not say that Rs.25,00,000 was incurred and spent by Lokesh alone. It was also further contended in the reply notice that Y.S. Bharathi has no role in selection of the news item as she was not involved in the day-to-day affairs of the newspaper in any manner whatsoever. It is further contended that it is made clear that she cannot be made liable for any action in Law nor can she be made liable for publication of any news in Sakshi columns. She is in no way concerned with the selection, editing, printing or publishing of the newspaper,” according to the reply given by Jagathi publications.
Mr Lokesh felt that his reputation was damaged and had decided to send a notice to Jagathi Publications. He claimed a sum of Rs.75 crore towards damages for defamation, on which a court fee of Rs.75,02,426 was paid, U/s 20 of A.P.C.F. and S.V. Act, 1956.