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India Today, Aroon Purie settle Salman Khurshid defamation claim v India Today online with little mutual regrets & ‘extreme satisfaction’ (with Bhandari, Sundaram, Tripathy)

Aaj Tak: Little regrets
Aaj Tak: Little regrets
Via Mint: The India Today group's TV channel Aaj Tak has published a small note of mutual regret on the bottom right-hand corner of its website, in its settlement of a Rs 1 crore defamation suit brought in 2012 by Louise Khurshid, the wife of Salman Khurshid, who was then law minister.

Both the media group and the former minister expressed “regret”, respectively for “any distress caused” and the “harsh words used against Mr. Aroon Purie”.

The couple had filed the defamation case in Louise’s name in the Delhi high court in October 2012 against the India Today group and 13 other defendants, including Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, the Mail Today newspaper, two news anchors and then the group's executive editor Aroon Purie.

The Khurshids had claimed that they had been defamed by the defendants' broadcast of allegations that they were skimming money out of a charity that Louise was associated with.

In a settlement agreement dated 8 November 2014, the parties jointly agreed to the following statement that would be published on the Aaj Tak website for seven days:

We stand by the fact that TV Today’s story on the ZM Trust was based on certain documents of UP Government on the file of the Ministry of Social Justice in New Delhi. We understand some contents of those have been contested by the Trust and a fresh inquiry is being done by the State Government.

It was never the Channel’s intention to question the personal integrity of the then Hon’ble External Affairs Minister, Mr. Salman Khurshid or Mrs. Khurshid who runs the Trust activities for the disabled, or charge them with any personal malfeasance and if the story has been perceived as such and any distress caused is sincerely regretted.

In View of the above, Mr. Salman Khurshid regrets & withdraws harsh words used against Mr. Aroon Purie.

It has now been agreed that all Civil and Criminal action initiated against the India Today Group in various courts across the country by the then Hon’ble External Affairs Minister, his wife and the Dr. Zakir Husain Memorial Trust shall be withdrawn forthwith.”

The English-language statement was published in a scrollable box, roughly 300 by 200 pixels in size, in the bottom-right-hand corner of aajtak.intoday.in's Hindi-language homepage. The notice was visible from 27 January for seven days, said Abhimanyu Bhandari, the co-founding partner at Axon Partners, who represented the Khurshids with senior advocate Parag Tripathy.

Bhandari commented by email: “Extremely satisfying result as both parties have amicably resolved this.”

The India Today group was represented by senior advocate CA Sundaram.

India Today Group CEO Ashish Bagga and managing editor Supriya Prasad did not respond to an email seeking comment earlier this evening.

A version of this article was first exclusively published in Mint

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