Business family serves defamation notice to Pandit activist, 2 TV channels

Srinagar: A prominent city business family has sent a legal notice of civil and criminal defamation to two Indian television channels besides a Kashmiri Pandit activist for disseminating “falsehood” about its hotel-cum-shopping mall at Residency Road here.
In the notice through its counsel advocate Mian Qayoom, the family has demanded an unconditional apology within 10 days, failing which it will file a lawsuit.
According to the notices, during a debate on Times Now channel’s News Hour programme on July 17, Pandit activist Rashneek Kher, a panelist, had alleged that the hotel-cum-shopping mall, owned by businessman Mohammad Shafi Shah and his son Imtiyaz Ahmed Shah, has been built from the money received through hawala channels.
He also claimed that the multi-storey building was actually owned by two separatist leaders “including one residing in Maisuma, Srinagar”, probably alluding to JKLF chief Yaseen Malik.
The same panelist repeated these allegations during a similar debate on News X, broadcast live on July 18, the notices said.
Kher had also asked the PDP-BJP government to take immediate action against “these terrorists”.
The notices served on M/S Vineet Jain and Sameer Jain, the proprietors of the Times Now, its editor Arnob Goswami and Kartikey Sharma, proprietor of the News X, its editor Rahul Shivshankar and Kher give the background of how the land measuring 2 kanals, 18 marlas and 158 sq. ft. bearing survey No. 177 situated at Kothi Bagh (Residency Road) and the building over it (known as Pestonjee Building) had been legally acquired by Mohammad Shafi Shah and his two sons Manzoor Ahmed Shah and Imtiyaz Ahmed Shah from one KB Pestonjee, who had leasehold rights over the property.
It was actually on the directions by the high court that the property rights were conferred on the Shah family under J&K state lands (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act 2001 for Rs 1.20 crore per kanal in 1999, the notice says. For this, the family has also obtained a huge loan from J&K bank, the notice said.
Subsequently a hotel-cum-shopping mall was built over the land, replacing the erstwhile Pestonjee Building, which had been gutted in a fire in 1992.
The TV channels have been asked to apologise and also broadcast statements clarifying the actual position and “reality and truth” about the property owned by the Shah family within 10 days, failing which both criminal and civil proceedings would be initiated against Kher for making allegations, and the two TV channels for allowing him to do so.
The notices further said that not only will the family seek the prosecution of Times Now and News X and punishment according to the law awarded to them but also seek for “placing curbs on your news channel(s), so that you will stop abusing your prerogative by preaching falsehood under the guise of fair comment.”