The murky case of India TV and its anchor Tanu Sharma

04 July 2014

On 22 June, the Noida police registered a First Information Report that went largely unreported by the mainstream media. The FIR charged Anita Sharma Bisht and MN Prasad, senior executives of the news channel India TV, under three sections of the Indian Penal Code—306 (abetment of suicide), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment).

The complainant was an employee named Tanu Sharma, who, in the FIR, alleges she was harassed and “mentally tortured” during her time with the channel, and was driven to consume poison.

On 2 July, the channel’s editor-in-chief, Rajat Sharma, and his wife, Ritu Dhawan, the channel’s managing director, sent Tanu Sharma, along with Manisha Pande of Newslaundry and—both of which had covered the story—a legal notice alleging that the accusations against them and their company were false and reserving the right to seek damages of up to Rs 10 crore.

When I emailed Rajat Sharma on 30 June to seek his response on the matter, I received a reply from Ritika Talwar, a legal representative, who provided a detailed account of the channel’s version of the events. In this mail, she disputed Tanu’s claim that she had consumed poison, saying, “It is noteworthy that as per the medical report no toxic substance was found in her stomach.”

However, when I contacted Renuka Singh, the investigating officer of the case, from the Gautam Budh Nagar police station, over the telephone on 4 July, she said: “The contents of the stomach wash have been sent to the Agra Forensic Laboratory by Kailash Hospital. Results are awaited.”

Sandeep Bhushan was a television journalist for twenty years. He is currently an independent media researcher.