An article published in Sakshi in October had claimed that Lokesh had spent Rs 25 lakh from the state exchequer for tea and snacks.

Nara Lokesh files Rs 75 crore defamation suit against Sakshi publications
news Controversy Saturday, January 25, 2020 - 19:01

Nara Lokesh, son of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu and General Secretary of the TDP has  filed a defamation suit for Rs 75 crore against the Telugu newspaper Sakshi. Sakshi TV and Sakshi Publications is owned by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, whose wife YS Bharati Reddy is the chairperson of the group.

The suit is based on a news item titled  ‘Chinnababu Chiruthindi Rs 25 Lakshalandi’ (The young one’s snacks cost Rs 25 lakh), published in the Visakhapatnam edition of Sakshi on October 22, 2019. The article claims that during Naidu’s term as Chief Minister from 2014-19, the CM account raked up bills amounting to Rs 25 lakh for tea and snacks at the ‘Fusion Foods Restaurant’ in the Visakhapatnam airport. It goes on to say that most of the expenses were incurred during Lokesh’s visits, under the CM’s expense account. 

Lokesh had reportedly sent a notice to the editorial team of Sakshi claiming that the information furnished in the article was false. While Sakshi sent a response on November 2019, Lokesh has now filed a defamation suit as he was not satisfied with the explanation provided in the response. Lokesh has reportedly claimed that the article was published with malafide intention, and ‘intent to cause harm to his reputation’. The case has been filed against Jagati Publications Limited, the founding organisation of Sakshi, Sakshi editor Vardhelli Murali, and their Visakhapatnam reporters B Venkata Reddy and Garikapathi Umakanth.

The Sakshi article states that while an amount of Rs 12 lakh for the period of 2014-16 was paid to the restaurant by authorities in 2016, as of May 31, 2019, an amount of Rs 13,44,484 was still pending payment, turning into a burden for the concerned authorities. The article also mentions that although Lokesh was an MLC, the protocol followed for him was the same as that for the CM. The article includes details of 26 different bills amounting to Rs 13,44,484, including the bill numbers, dates and amounts spent. 

In the defamation suit, Lokesh has claimed that he was not at the Visakhapatnam airport on the dates mentioned  in the article but was present elsewhere. He has claimed that the publication has used lies for political benefit, causing him mental distress. 

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