SRINAGAR: A court in Srinagar has directed the controversial TV anchor Arnab Goswami and his colleagues to appear before it in connection with the criminal defamation case filed by former minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar.

Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami has been directed earlier this week to appear before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar on February 9 in connection with the criminal defamation suit of Akhtar. The former minister has accused Goswami and others of levelling “baseless and fabricated” charges of corruption against him in a complaint filed on 16 November, 2018.

Other named in the complaint include former PDP MLA, Molvi Abid Ansari, against whom a bailable arrest warrant has been issued, BJP activist Khalid Jahangir, Republic TV correspondents Zishan Fazil and Aditya Raj Koul, and others.

“Abid chose not to appear before the court after which an arrest warrant was issued against him while Khalid Jahangir appeared before the court and submitted bail bonds. The case has been listed for recording of statement on February 9,” Akhtar’s counsel, Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, said.

On September 11, Akhtar had sent a legal notice to the PDP MLA for making “baseless” allegations of corruption against him. In his court complaint, Akhtar had said the accused should be tried and punished in accordance with the law under section 499 and 500 of RPC.

Earlier on September 1, Akhtar sent a legal notice to Republic TV and state BJP functionary Khalid Jehangir for the “defamatory and malicious” news content carried against him by the channel.

The notice said the Republic TV broadcasted a news segment carrying “baseless allegations of corruption and favoritism” against what he mentioned in letter as a “close aide” of the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

The court had taken note of the statement made by the complainant which was supported by a witness, and taken cognisance of the complaint after which it directed the accused to appear before the court.

“You (Abid Ansari) have leveled serious allegations against him (Akhtar) including allegations of massive corruption by virtue of which allegedly my client has bought 250 kanals of land in Budgam district. You have made direct references to my client, and the political party to which he belongs, with respect to the defamatory content of your statement,” reads the notice that Akhtar has sent to Abid Ansari by his lawyer.

The notice stated that the statements had caused irreparable damage to Akhtar’s image and reputation as well as to the reputation and standing of the party to which he belongs.

“Your statements without any doubt are a clear and malicious attempt to create differences between the office bearers, members, workers, and supporters of the J&K People’s Democratic Party and a sinister effort to break up the People’s Democratic Party,” says the notice, adding that Ansari has lied in his statements outright and these are nothing but brazen concoctions.