No "defamatory" articles: Tejasvi Surya gets order to gag media
Tejasvi Surya, BJP's candidate from Bangalore South, managed to get a court order on Friday which bars 49 media houses from publishing "defamatory" articles about him. A civil court in Bangalore provided relief to the 28-year-old, who was selected as a candidate from the reputed constituency last week. Tejasvi had approached the court after publications ran stories about him allegedly abusing women. Here's more.
It all started with a congratulatory message for Tejasvi after he was chosen over Ananth Kumar's wife Tejaswini. Replying to the tweet, Dr. Som Dutta, who is an entrepreneur, wrote that Tejasvi isn't as he portrays himself. Dutta claimed Tejasvi was a "womanizer" and "women beater". In another tweet, Dutta wrote she was against shaming people publicly but BJP should have run background checks.
"For over 5 years I have suffered at his hand till I decided to make it stop by taking up serious measures. My love was blind and trust me I am not his 1st victim or will be his last," another tweet of Dutta read.
To recall, MJ Akbar, former junior minister of External Affairs, was accused by tens of women of sexual misconduct last year when #MeToo hit India. After the allegations kept on flowing, Akbar resigned but that hasn't stopped him from supporting BJP or adding "chowkidar" to his Twitter name. In Tejasvi's case, Dutta later asked everyone to leave "both of them alone".
"We both come from very good families and lot of people will get hurt if we drag this further. We have moved on. I have deleted my tweets on my own as I realized that it's not worth it," Dutta wrote before deactivating her profile.
Considering the allegations surfaced in post #MeToo era, Tejasvi was widely discussed, prompting him to approach the court. While the City Civil court judge Dinesh Hegde didn't give Tejasvi a permanent relief, he granted a temporary injunction. Several Kannada, English channels and web portals have been restricted from carrying "defamatory" pieces against Tejasvi till May 27, when the matter will come up for hearing.
"How all of a sudden these allegations against the plaintiff emerged immediately after he filed the nomination for the general election is a questionable question," the court order reportedly read.
Tejasvi's counsel Sudharshan Suresh said it was absurd that news which could tarnish his image surfaced after he filed nomination. The young gun also defended himself by saying Dutta is a close friend. "She has requested everybody not to continue this. As a gentleman, it is my utmost duty to respect her words and I will not continue this any further," he reportedly said.
The order, which raises questions about freedom of the press, concerned many. Filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh told News18 that Tejasvi's actions confirmed that he has something to hide. "You are standing for the people and if people cannot question you, whenever he did it, yesterday or today, past or present, then what is he standing for," she asked. Rather than getting a court order, Tejasvi could have followed due process and proved his innocence. But he took the convenient path.