Express Group threatens Sprouts with Rs 100 cr defamation notice

Unmesh Gujarathi-

Loksatta Editor gets Rs 50 K, Sprouts Editor receives Rs 100 cr defamation notice

After Sprouts exposed the matter of Loksatta Editor receiving Rs. 50,000 at stake. Instead of taking corrective action, the Express Group has threatened with a Rs.100 crore defamation notice to Sprouts editor and is trying to throttle the investigating journalism.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis invited journalists for Diwali get together at his residence “Meghadoot” in South Mumbai on Wednesday.

Although it was claimed to be a get together, basically it was a function organised to distribute gifts and as expected there was a heavy crowd of journalists, including those covering political beat and some editors, to collect the gift vouchers.

The program was organised at Meghdoot, the official residence of Fadnavis on October 26, 2022 between 12 pm and 2 pm. There were over 150 journalists who were given the gift vouchers worth Rs 50,000 each.

The vouchers were issued by the Reliance group enabling the recipients to purchase goods, articles worth Rs 50,000/-. Naturally there was a huge crowd of scribes to collect these vouchers. In fact this was a trap to burden the scribes under obligation.

The news of the journalists including Loksatta Chief Editor Girish Kuber having lunch and collecting the gift voucher of Rs 50,000 after waiting in a queue was first carried by Sprouts.

The entire Maharashtra took cognizance of this news report and congratulated Sprouts. Some also demanded a judicial inquiry into the episode.

However Girish Kuber was disturbed since the Express management sought clarification from him. Reportedly he was also asked to resign. However Kuber maintained that he did not collect the gift voucher and there was no question of his tendering resignation.(in Lokmanya Tilak style). He was also fortunate to convince the management about his stand in the matter.

The Express group, a pioneer in investigating journalism should have congratulated Sprouts and conduct an internal inquiry. Instead of this, the Express Group demanded an unconditional apology and also threatened to slap a Rs 100 crore defamation notice on Sprouts editor.

This news was also carried in Loksatta on Friday. So Kuber received a Rs 50,000 gift voucher and Sprouts Editor received a Rs. 100 crore defamation notice. This is nothing but an attempt to demoralise and throttle the voice of Sprouts. However, Sprouts editor and Special Investigation Team of Sprouts is firm on its stand.

The Sprouts is also in the process of demanding an inquiry by the Economic Offences Wing into how many stories were ‘managed’ by Kuber and how much wealth he accumulated after he became the Loksatta Editor.

Kuber retracted after writing an article “Asantache Sant”. To write, retract and apologise is the tradition of Loksatta and not of Sprouts. This Express management should take into consideration this.

The Sprout already carries the multi-crore rupees defamation suits on its head. They include Rs. 1000 crore defamation suit filed by Himalaya Drug House, a suit filed by ‘Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh Mandal’ when its corruption was exposed and many more such suits. Despite this Sprouts has continued its crusade against corruption and wrong doings due to strong backing and blessings of the readers.

The report about the gift vouchers doled out to the scribes is being reproduced in today’s edition.

Unmesh Gujarathi
Editor in Chief
sproutsnews.com



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