Senior journalist Barkha Dutt took to Twitter on Wednesday, 17 July, saying that she would initiate criminal and civil proceedings against Congress leader Kapil Sibal and his wife for "cheating and fraud and refusal to honour contract".
My last word on @NewsHtn saga. I will initiate criminal and civil proceedings against @KapilSibal and wife for cheating and fraud & refusal to honour contract. I hope the staff whom I support fully is able to get compensation of 3 months. Irony:Parliament media debate tomorrow— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 17, 2019
WHAT’S THE CONTEXT?
Her move comes after she slammed the "appalling" state of affairs at HTN Tiranga TV – a channel which she had been associated with – saying that more than 200 employees have been sacked without a six-month payout, and blamed Sibal for treating journalists in a "hideous way".
Dutt accused Sibal – who backs the channel – of "duping and cheating" journalists, and not having "the decency to even meet them".
She claimed that Sibal’s wife made “disparaging” and “sickening” remarks against journalists, as she demanded a payout for the employees that is in compliance with the industry norm.
The journalist also claimed that Sibal and his wife have used abusive language when referring to female staffers, and has filed a complaint in this regard.
The Congress leader and his wife Promila Sibal, meanwhile, have denied the allegations levelled against him.
Speaking to The Wire, Kapil Sibal said that staff members have been paid salaries till the end of June and the company has adhered to the "terms of the contract" when it came to compensation.
ISSUE REACHES RAJYA SABHA
Meanwhile, a BJP MP on Wednesday raised in the Rajya Sabha the issue of alleged misbehaviour “with a woman journalist of a private news channel” and urged Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu to refer the matter to the ethics committee of the House if any member was suppressing voice of the media.
BJP's Bhupender Yadav, raising the issue through a 'point of order' during the Zero hour, said, "We do not want to interfere in any private organisation, but if a woman is misbehaved with and employees are not paid, it is responsibility of parliamentarians to protect the freedom of speech".
The senior BJP member, however, did not take names.
LAYOFFS AND PROTESTS
According to a Newslaundry report published on 12 July 2019, over two dozen employees, coming from different departments, had been laid off at Tiranga TV in two rounds – the first one taking place in mid-June, followed by the second in early July.
The employees had protested against how the situation unfolded, where they allege they were not properly informed in advance. On Wednesday, 3 July, they had gathered outside the channel's office and also staged a silent protest outside the Press Club of India in Delhi.
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