New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to Arnab Goswami for the breach of employment contract and the misuse of intellectual property of Times Now. Goswami is the former Editor of Times Now, a channel owned by the Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd (BCCL).
BCCL, India’s largest media house that also publishes the Times of India, The Economic Times, Navbharat Times and a host of other properties, had recently filed a criminal complaint against Goswami, stating that audio tapes played during two stories aired on Republic TV – on Sunanda Pushkar and Lalu Prasad Yadav – were ‘procured and accessed’ by Goswami and Prema Sridevi (a former Times Now reporter) while they were still employed by Times Now.
During its launch on May 6, Republic TV carried an ‘expose’ on Lalu Prasad Yadav, where phone conversations between the former Bihar Chief Minister and Shahabuddin, while the latter was still in jail, were aired.
Another ‘expose’ was done by Republic TV on May 8 in which the audio of conversations between Prema Sridevi and Sunanda Pushkar and their domestic help Narayan were aired.
BCCL’s internal inquiry indicated that both these ‘exposes’ used material that were procured and accessed by Goswami and Sridevi as employees of Times Now. The duo had admitted that the audio of the conversation with the late Sunanda Pushkar and their domestic help was in their possession for the last 2 years.
MK Anand, CEO of Times Now says that “the management discovered these thefts only when it was aired on Republic TV. It is sad that a man of his stature has turned into a thief and stolen content from Times Now to launch his own channel. This obviously was well planned since he used both these stories in the first three days of the launch.”
BCCL has accused Arnab and Prema of willfully and deliberately using Times Now intellectual property and sought prosecution under section 403 and other sections of the IPC for criminal misappropriation of property and violation of certain sections of the Information Technology Act.
Section 66B of IT Act stipulates that anyone who “dishonestly receives or retains any stolen computer resource or communication device knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen computer resource or communication device,” shall be punished with up to three years’ imprisonment or fined up to Rs 1 lakh, or both. Arnab Goswami quit Times Now last November and launched ‘Republic TV’.