Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday sued two media companies — Zee Media Corporation and News Nation Network — over "false news reports" and claimed Rs 100-crore damages.
The Madras high court, in an interim order, restrained the two companies from publishing or telecasting for two weeks any content linking Dhoni with match-fixing and betting scandals or defacing his reputation as an individual.
Zee TV, however, said it had not telecast or shown any footage or dialogue to malign the image of Dhoni.
Admitting the defamation suit, Madras high court judge S Tamilvannan observed that though press freedom was important, the reputation of an individual should not be hurt, said Dhoni's advocate, PS Raman.
Raman, a former advocate general, had also represented ex-Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan in a betting case in Mumbai.
Dhoni submitted that he was aggrieved by the defamatory, libellous, scandalous and malicious false reports and statements made by Zee Media Corporation, News Nation Network and suspended Indian Police Service officer G Sampath Kumar, who initially probed the betting scam in the domestic T20 league.
"Since February 11, 2014... (the defendants) have been telecasting and broadcasting and hosting false news reports insinuating that the plaintiff (Dhoni) was involved in the illegal activities of betting, match fixing and spot fixing. News Nation Network Private Limited also joined the tirade against him.
"The reports that were broadcast by the news networks revolved around... Chennai Super Kings of which Dhoni is the captain and the alleged involvement of him in match fixing devastated the reputation and image of Dhoni," the suit said.
The Team India captain also alleged the telecasts were done with an intention to project him as an object of hatred and ridicule to the general public, especially the fans of Chennai Super Kings.
Raman said that over 100 pages of snapshots and other contents were submitted to the court to back the complaint of Dhoni.
"I am of the view that there is a prima facie case and the balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiff," the judge said in his order after perusing Dhoni's affidavit.
Zee clarified that it had telecast a story based on Vindoo Dara Singh, the central figure in the T20 betting case investigated by the Mumbai Police, and Sampath Kumar's statements during a sting operation which was telecast on February 24 and 28, respectively.
With PTI inputs