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Apex court notice to Sun TV on Karunanidhi arrest tapes

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 13. The Supreme Court today issued notice to M. Kalanidhi Maran, proprietor of the Sun TV network, on a Tamil Nadu Government appeal challenging a Madras High Court order quashing summons issued to him for allegedly doctoring video footage on the arrest of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president, M. Karunanidhi, in June 2001.

A Bench consisting of Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Justice B. P. Singh issued the notice to Mr. Kalanidhi, eldest son of the late Union Minister, Murasoli Maran, after hearing the senior counsel for the State, P.P. Rao, who argued that the issue required consideration by the apex court.

According to the special leave petition, the Government filed a complaint before a Chennai metropolitan magistrate alleging that Sun TV had edited the entire record of events on the arrest of Mr. Karunanidhi, inserting dubbed voice and misrepresenting the sequence with intent to create hatred among the people towards the police and the Government.

The complaint said repeated telecast of the distorted news led to violence in which several State road transport buses were damaged. During investigation the police issued summons to Mr. Kalanidhi, asking him to produce the video cassettes and furnish particulars of the names, designations and addresses of crew members who took the videograph and telecast the footage.

On a petition from Mr. Kalanidhi challenging the notice, the High Court on July 28, 2003, quashed the order summoning him.

The SLP contended that the summons issued for producing a document would not amount to testimonial compulsion as interpreted under Article 20 (3) of the Constitution (No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself) and further the video tapes could not be construed as a document.

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