Telangana government has sanctioned Rs 15 lakh to IAS officer Smita Sabharwal towards legal expenses to enable her to file a civil defamation suit against Outlook magazine for posting an article and a cartoon in July 6th edition of the magazine. Smita Sabharwal will file a civil defamation suit against Outlook asking for damages worth Rs 10 crore.
In a small write up in its 'Deep Throat' column titled 'No boring Babu', the piece had talked about how the only IAS officer in the Telangana secretariat was present at every meeting making a "fashion statement with her lovely saris and serves as 'eye candy' at meetings."
Though the report did not mention any names, Smita Sabharwal IAS being the only woman IAS officer in the CM office lashed out at the magazine asking for an apology.
A Government Order issued on August 20 says that the IAS officer had requested the government to sanction Rs 15 lakh towards legal expenses, including the Rs 10 lakh deposit and Rs 5 lakh for additional legal charges.
The government order says the amount can be repaid by the officer in case of compensation awarded by court.
The Outlook piece had said that, "The lovely lady, known for her ethnic style, recently stunned all by appearing in a trendy trouser and frilly top at a fashion show. And for once, she wasn’t sitting in an official meeting. But this appearance too made for a great photo op." The IAS officer had called it a deplorable piece of yellow journalism.
The Central Crime Station (CCS) in Hyderabad had earlier registered cases against the management and employees following a complaint filed by Smitha’s husband and IPS officer Akun Sabharwal.
Cases were registered against them under IPC Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), Section 67 of IT Act and Section 3 read with 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition Act) 1986.
The magazine later replaced the snippet with an apology where it said piece that the snippet was a satire, not intended to be derisive or derogatory, and was meant to be received in a lighter vein. "Outlook expresses regret if any offence has been taken," it read.
Following this, Outlook Editor Krishna Prasad had written to Governor ESL Narasimhan alleging that the police were exerting pressure on Outlook correspondent Madhavi Tata to personally appear at the police station in connection with a defamation case, and accused the Hyderabad police of harassing her while a defamation case was pending in the High Court.
Outlook also carried a cartoon of the IAS officer walking on a ramp as a caricature of the Telangana chief minister holds a camera and politicians in the background winking and cheering her on.