The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has directed three news channels to issue an apology on air for their reports on actor Rakul Preet Singh's alleged connection to deceased Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death. According to Live Law Zee News, Zee24 and Zee Hindustani have all been ordered to air the apology on December 17. In addition to this, the broadcasting authority also directed Times Now, IndiaTV, India Today, News Nation, Aaj Tak and ABP News to remove their online reports and social media posts on the actor, with misleading hashtags.
In September, Rakul filed a plea in the Delhi High court against reports that linked her to a drug case being investigated in tandem with Sushant Singh's death by the Narcotics Control bureau (NCB). The NCB had summoned several female actors including the petitioner, Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor. During the investigation, reports were run by several channels claiming that Sushant's former girlfriend Rhea Chakraboty had named Rakul in a drugs racket. Rakul alleged that these were unverified reports, given that Rhea had issued a retraction statement where she denied naming Rakul in her statements to the NCB. Following this, the Delhi High Court had passed an interim order directing the NBSA to pass orders against the reports.
In line with this directive, the NBSA which is headed by former Supreme court judge Justice AK Sikri, passed multiple directions.
āNBSA observed that these Hashtags/Taglines were very offensive and derogatory and gave an impression that the complainant was definitely a part of the ādrug circle gang and was pedalling and consuming drugsā,ā the order read. āNBSA observed that the broadcaster, while telecasting such Hashtags, Taglines, and Images must understand the impression that these create on the viewers and the fact that these Taglines and Images, which have no connection with the news programmes being telecast, cannot be broadcast randomly.ā
The NBSA also came down upon channels for the manner in which they portrayed the actor.
"Images of the complainant shown gulping alcohol, smoking and other images shown in the broadcasts were certainly misleading. Some of the images had no connection with the news being telecast and were taken from the complainant's movies without any reference to the same," said the order. "The images were repeatedly telecast and therefore the violation by the broadcaster was egregious in nature and the response given by it not considered a sufficient explanation or justification for the telecast of the above taglines and images," it stated.